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Rugby Canada adds Phil Mack to developmental academy coaching staff



Rugby Canada has added former Canadian international Phil Mack to its coaching staff.

Mack, who turned 35 on Friday, joins the coaching staff of the Rugby Canada men’s development academy in Langford, B.C., as an assistant to head coach Jamie Cudmore. He succeeds fellow former international Adam Kleeberger, who has moved into a talent identification role based out of Vancouver.

Mack, a mobile scrum half, earned 57 caps for Canada and was a member of the 2015 and ’19 World Cup squads. He was also a star on the sevens circuit, ranking second in all-time Canada scoring (973 points) after appearing in 50-plus tournaments.

He spent 2018 and 2019 as a player-coach with the Seattle Seawolves of Major League Rugby. He was appointed assistant coach prior to the 2020 season. A member of the Toquaht First Nation, Mack also has been coaching with the Thunder Rugby indigenous program since its inception.

“Phil has extensive playing experience in both 15s and 7s, but it’s his coaching experience that stands out,” Canadian men’s coach Kingsley Jones, who doubles as director of men’s performance rugby, said in a statement.

“In three years with the Seattle Seawolves, they won the MLR title twice. He is hugely respected as a player and coach, and we look forward to supporting him on his coaching pathway.”

Canadian women’s assistant coach Maria Gallo, meanwhile, has been confirmed as a member of the World Rugby Coach Internship program for the 2021 Women’s World Cup.

Rugby Canada says Gallo will be “fully embedded” for 12 months in Canada’s World Cup management team as World Rugby targets a minimum of 40 percent of all coaches at the 2025 edition of the World Cup to be women.

Gallo was capped 55 times for Canada over an 11-year international playing career that saw her play in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups. She also captained Canada at the 2009 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Gallo, 42, also represented Canada in bobsled. She was elected to the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame in 2018 in the player category.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2020.

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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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Prop Djustice Sears-Duru adds to Canadian contingent with the Los Angeles Giltinis | NanaimoNewsNOW



By Canadian Press

Nov 23, 2021 | 6:55 AM

LOS ANGELES — Canadian international prop Djustice Sears-Duru has joined the Major League Rugby champion Los Angeles Giltinis.

The 27-year-old Sears-Duru spent the last three seasons with the Seattle Seawolves, winning the MLR championship in 2019. He joins fellow Canadians DTH van der Merwe, Ben LeSage and Corey Thomas at the Giltinis.

The six-foot-one 258-pound loosehead prop, who has won 60 caps for Canada, will help fill the void left by the departure of J.P. Smith and Blake Rogers. 

“Djustice is exactly the style of player we want. He has experience, he’s won a MLR title with Seattle and he’s performed in different environments around the world,” Giltinis coach Stephen Hoiles said in a statement. “He’s a powerful guy but we believe he has another level in him and it’s the responsibility of the club to bring that out.

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COVID-19 omicron variant already disrupting sports



The omicron variant is causing concern over fears that it may be more transmissible than current variants and resistant to vaccines.

Golf, cricket and rugby became the first major sports to be affected by the new COVID-19 variant on Friday, prompting fears of renewed travel restrictions and disrupted events just as they were returning to normal nearly two years into the pandemic. European golfers withdrew midway through the season-opening DP World Tour tournament in Johannesburg and were scrambling to catch flights out of South Africa. Visiting cricket and rugby teams were doing the same.

Golf was the first to be hit by the emergence of the new B.1.1.529 variant that was initially identified in South Africa and is causing concern over fears that it may be more transmissible than current variants and resistant to vaccines.

It has already been detected in Israel, Hong Kong and Belgium as well as several other countries in southern Africa.

While the start of the World Tour was ruined, rugby games in South Africa in a new European-South African tournament were postponed “due to the sudden developments,” organizers said. A tour to South Africa by India’s cricket team next month was likely to be reconsidered, although there was no official comment yet.

The Dutch cricket team, already in South Africa for a series, was considering whether to cancel its remaining games and return home early. The Royal Netherlands Cricket Federation said it was looking at options but was “unlikely” to be able to find flights at short notice.

“The physical and mental health of the players is the first priority,” the federation said.

Organizers of golf’s Joburg Open, which started Thursday, said it would continue even after at least 23 mostly European players pulled out in the hours after South African health authorities announced they had detected the new variant. The tournament was later reduced to a 54-hole, three-round event ending on Saturday “to help non-South African resident players, caddies and tournament support staff return to their home countries,” the organizers said.

The Joburg Open was scheduled to be the first of three events in South Africa to start the new season on the circuit formerly known as the European Tour. But next week’s South African Open will now only be a South African tour event with international players likely to head home to beat travel restrictions. The Alfred Dunhill Championship set for Dec. 9-12 was canceled.

Many of the players who withdrew from the Joburg Open were from Britain or Ireland and reacted following the British government’s announcement that it would re-impose a ban on visitors from South Africa and five other southern African countries from 4 a.m. Sunday. Returning residents would have compulsory 10-day quarantine periods in designated hotels.

The European Union and the United States later said they also would stop air travel from the southern African region as countries across the world began putting in place new travel restrictions.

Irish golfer Paul Dunne, one of those to withdraw, told RTE Radio that he found some flights but they went via Ethiopia, where a yearlong conflict now threatens to reach the capital, Addis Ababa.

“Bit of a minefield,” Dunne said of his attempts to get home.

Not all were leaving. Scottish golfer David Drysdale said he had decided to keep playing in the Joburg Open and then stay in South Africa with his wife, who is also his caddy, and make a vacation of it.

“Most of the British players have all decided to head home and that’s totally understandable if you’ve got a wife and kids at home,” Drysdale told the Scotsman newspaper. “There wasn’t a (plane) seat to be had by the time we found out what had happened. A lot of the guys were panicking, but we thought, ‘what’s the point?’

“We are staying with a mate in Joburg and our plan is to still stay until Christmas then return home. Hopefully this variant is not as bad as they are fearing … it’s not even been 24 hours since we heard about this.”

Four rugby teams — two from Wales, one from Ireland and one from Italy — were also trying to return home from South Africa before they even had the chance to play after their games were postponed by the United Rugby Championship.

“With the situation in South Africa having changed so quickly, we are now looking to repatriate our staff ASAP,” Welsh club Cardiff said.

There was bound to also be repercussions for other events in other countries, like the women’s cricket World Cup qualifying tournament in Zimbabwe, another southern African nation listed on new travel bans. Nine national teams, including the United States, are playing in that tournament, which runs until Dec. 5.

The African Cup of Nations, Africa’s premier soccer tournament, is just over a month away and looming as a possible problem after having already been postponed for a year because of the pandemic.

The 24-team tournament will be played in Cameroon and only two southern African nations, Malawi and Zimbabwe, have qualified. But the African Cup would be hard-hit if European countries extend travel restrictions across Africa.

Top European soccer teams, and especially those in the Premier League, have previously prevented their African players from traveling and playing for their countries because of the risks and quarantine periods imposed on them when they return.

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Rugby League news: Wigan reveal squad numbers and new kits, Leeds handed major boost, Hull KR captaincy latest



Good morning!

Welcome along to today’s live rugby league blog.

We’ll start with Lewis Tierney, who announced his retirement from the game last night on the back of medical advice.

The winger, who played for Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons previously, spent last season with Leigh Centurions, but struggled with injuries and made just 10 appearances.

“Unfortunately over the past few years I’ve been dealing with different injuries and this year its finally come to a head,” he wrote on Instagram.

“The specialists said my chances of returning to the pitch after the operation I need is very slim. It’s been a tough few years trying to get on the pitch but this year has proved most difficult for me physically and mentally.

“I’ve decided that I need to put my health and happiness first for once and retire from rugby. My whole life has revolved around this great sport so being told you won’t play again is every players worst nightmare and a day I thought I personally would never see.

“But now the day has finally come and I’m getting stuck into my other business ventures I honestly couldn’t be happier in my decision to retire and move onto my next chapter.”

Lewis Tierney in action for Leigh Centurions (Image: SW Pix)

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