International Rugby returns to the Rock!

On Wednesday, we announced our selection as the host site of a 2023 RWC Qualifying Match on September 4, 2021, by Rugby Canada between Canada and the USA. Thank you to everyone that joined us for this announcement.

Full Release from Rugby Canada:

June 30, 2021 (Langford, BC) – Rugby Canada has announced that international rugby is scheduled to return to Canada on September 4th with the first round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying for Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team. It is then intended for the second round to be hosted on October 2nd. Both matches, presented by Rugby Canada premier partner DHL, will be the first leg of a “home and home” total points series that will ultimately lead to two direct qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2023 from North and South America, with a third team heading to the global repechage tournament in November, 2022. The Rugby World Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world and is contested every four years between 20 competing nations. Canada holds the distinction of qualifying for every Rugby World Cup tournament since its inception in 1987.

On-going work continues with governments, stakeholders and partners to ensure all events meet any relevant COVID requirements in order to maintain the safety of participants and attendees. Round one of qualification, if able to move forward, would mark the first international rugby on Canadian soil since the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver in March, 2020.

Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team is scheduled to begin their Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying campaign on September 4th versus the USA. This match would see the return of international rugby to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time in 15 years. Rugby Canada has been working with a dedicated local organizing committee for a number of months to host the qualifier at Swiler’s Rugby Park. Further details and ticketing information will be released shortly. Canada will then travel to the USA the following weekend, September 11th, for the return match.

“It’s exciting to be discussing the return of international rugby and we’ve received enthusiastic support from a number of partners and stakeholders,” said Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen. “Rugby Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union are especially grateful for the support from Premier Andrew Furey, Minister Seamus O’Regan and St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen to bring this game to St. John’s.”

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the honourable Andrew Furey, added, “Rugby has been fostered here in Newfoundland and Labrador for a number of years, so it is exciting for us to host a Rugby World Cup qualifying game between Canada and the United States in September. We look forward to welcoming the teams and their supporters for what is bound to be a great event, while inspiring local rugby fans and players.”

The second round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying will start on October 2nd. Match-ups will depend on the results from round one, with North America #1 seed taking on South America #1, and North America #2 versus South America #2. Rugby Canada will ensure “coast to coast” coverage by hosting the October 2nd qualification match at their home Starlight Stadium in Langford, BC. Further details and ticketing information will be released when available. After this test, Canada travels to South America for the return match.

“On behalf of Rugby Canada, I must recognize Sport Canada for their support and guidance, Minister Melanie Mark and the Provincial Government of BC for their willingness to explore all options for ensuring the hosting of these events can move forward in a safe environment, and the continued support of Mayor Stewart Young and the City of Langford,” stated Rugby Canada Managing Director of Business Operations, Jamie Levchuk. “In conjunction with our Premier partner DHL, we’ve set a mandate to have top-end matches and tournaments hosted across our country, and we can’t wait to officially confirm these qualifying tests in St.John’s and Langford.”

“The last international sporting event I attended was at BC Place where we hosted the world for rugby sevens. This is exciting progress as more activities resume safely in Steps 3 and 4 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, especially with fans in the stands again,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “B.C. is proud to host this qualifying round, as well as many more rugby activities as part of our economic recovery.”

After two rounds of qualification, the winner of NA #1 vs SA #1 will qualify as ‘Americas 1’ for Rugby World Cup 2023. The loser of the #1 seed qualifier will take on the winner of the #2 seed qualifier in July, 2022 where the winner of this round will qualify as ‘Americas 2’ for Rugby World Cup 2023 while the loser will head to the Global repechage tournament. The loser of the #2 seed qualifier in October will be eliminated from Rugby World Cup contention.

“We’re looking forward to traveling out to the East Coast for our round one match but are equally excited to be back playing in our home stadium,” stated Kingsley Jones, Director of Men’s Performance Rugby and National 15s Head Coach. “It is important that we give ourselves a home field advantage for both rounds of qualification and are excited about these opportunities to take the pitch in front of our fans for the first time since 2019.”

Updates on each event will be made as available. Broadcast and ticket information will be released at a later date.


About Rugby Canada:

Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of Rugby Union in Canada. They administer and operate Men’s and Women’s Senior and Junior National programs in both rugby XV’s and 7s, as well as govern the Club and community game for more than 30,000 registered participants from coast to coast in conjunction with ten Provincial Union members.

Rugby Canada is headquartered at the Al Charron National Training Centre in Langford, BC, with staff also working from Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa. Rugby Canada business operations, programs and events are delivered nationwide, including the internationally recognized HSBC Canada Sevens annual tournaments.

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