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Rugby Canada – 59-year-old former New Zealand Under-20 and Ulster boss to lead Canada’s Men’s Fifteens Program into 2019 Rugby World Cup qualification process

LANGFORD, BC – Today, Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance Jim Dixon announced that Mark Anscombe has been appointed Head Coach of Canada’s Men’s Fifteens Program, commencing May 1.

The 59-year-old New Zealander, who boasts an extensive background in international and professional rugby, takes over from the long-serving Kieran Crowley and Interim Head Coach Francois Ratier.

In 2011, as Head Coach of New Zealand’s Under-20 Team, Anscombe helped secure a fourth successive title at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy, having previously been an Assistant for the National Under-20 side in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We’re very excited to have Mark joining our coaching staff as we look to continue developing our Men’s Program towards qualification for the 2019 RWC in Japan,” said Dixon. “Our Selection Committee went through an extensive application and interview process and there were a number of highly qualified candidates from around the world.”

Anscombe was appointed Head Coach of Ulster ahead of the 2012/2013 campaign and his team started the season with an unprecedented 14 wins. In Anscombe’s first season in charge they finished top of the league, narrowly losing the final to Leinster. Before moving to Belfast, Anscombe also had a three-year spell as Head Coach of the Auckland ITM Cup side.

“Having worked with quality organizations like New Zealand’s Under-20 Team, Ulster and Auckland in the ITM Cup, Mark brings a wealth of international and professional experience to our organization. As we enhance our domestic program over the next 12-18 months and prepare for RWC2019 qualification, Mark’s experience and leadership will be vital” added Dixon. “Importantly, we feel Mark’s coaching style, playing philosophy and understanding of the environments our internationally based players compete in is a great fit for this program.”

Canada’s Men’s Team is scheduled to face Japan, Russia and Italy during their annual June International Series, with games set for June 11th in Vancouver, 18th in Calgary and 26th in Toronto.

“It’s an exciting time for Canadian Rugby. There’s some work to be done, but the foundation is in place and I look forward to moving to Canada and working with all of the players, staff, Board of Directors and Provincial Unions to continue growing and developing the sport across the country,” said Anscombe.

“Qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup is in my bigger picture and hugely important for Canadian Rugby, but the key for any team, especially at this level, is developing depth and that’s going to be a big focus of mine moving forward.”

For the first-time ever, Canada’s Men’s Fifteens Team will have a centralized, full-time program beginning in August at the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, BC. Over 20 athletes will have access to a high-performance daily training environment, world-class coaching, sport science and medical facilities throughout the year to prepare for international competition.

“Although I’m still learning more about the program, having our top domestic athletes centralized in Langford starting in August will allow us to bring players together in a high-performance environment to build their skill levels, develop younger players and prepare for our key international fixtures,” added Anscombe.

 “On behalf of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors, I would like to welcome Mark to the organization and wish him all the best as he begins the process of securing Canada’s place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan,” said Pat Aldous, Chairman of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors.

At this time, Anscombe’s commencement is subject to Canadian Immigration requirements and both Anscombe and Rugby Canada are working with the Canadian Immigration Department to meet the requirements for him to be able to begin employment.

Qualification for the 2019 Rugby World Cup will take place in 2017, with details to be announced.

Tickets for Canada’s upcoming international can be purchased at

Media Conference Call:

Media are able to speak with Mark Anscombe during a Media conference call on:

Tuesday, March 29th

2:30pm ET/11:30am PT

Call-in Number: Canada: 1 888 350 3035

Conference Room #: 5289320 

About Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is the national governing  body  of  the  sport  of  rugby  union  in Canada.  Rugby Football has a  long  history  in  Canada  dating  back  to  its  initial appearance in the 1860s. Since 1974, Rugby Canada has been a permanent fixture on  the  global  rugby  scene,  including  trips  to  each  of  the eight Men’s Rugby  World Cups and seven Women’s Rugby World Cups. As a regular on the Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Canada continues to climb the world rankings and challenge the dominant rugby nations in both versions of the game.

To support the growth of rugby at the grass-roots level and to ensure there are elite programs for prospering young rugby players to become involved with, Rugby Canada has put an emphasis on developing its junior programs.  Our goal is to develop and train competitive teams for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland and 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan. 







For more information, please contact:

Bryan Kelly, Rugby Canada

Manager, Communications and Media Relations

Phone: 250-216-5272