OBJECTIVE: The intent of this initiative is to eliminate the “PAY TO PLAY” experience presently felt by participants in the National Senior Women’s XV Rugby Team, leave a legacy fund for future teams where possible, and provide funding for the National Age Group Women’s Rugby Teams.
BACKGROUND: At the Annual General Meeting of Rugby Canada in April of 2015, Senior Management from the National Teams program identified a significant shortfall in funding for the Senior Women’s XV National team. In high-lighting the success of the team at the 2014 Women’s World Cup, with the final result of a Silver Medal, Management identified that the National team players had to make significant personal contributions towards funding. It was stated that each player had to personally fundraise, or pay from their own resources, $7,000 -$10,000 to participate in the preparation and participation in the 2014 Women’s World Cup. Unless action is taken, those players striving to play in the 2017 Women’s World Cup may have to pay a similar amount or more.
It is recognized that all players who participate on Canadian National Senior rugby teams make personal commitments to participate. Often careers and education plans are put on hold once a player is selected for the National team squad. Time off from work, often without pay, is not unusual for players because of the demands for their time to participate at the national level.
That being said, the National Senior Women’s XV team is the only team that assesses a fee per player to cover the operating costs and development of the team. This factor, the idea of having to ‘pay to play’ for our Senior National Women’s team members, is unique within Senior National Team rugby. All of our National senior teams receive some support through Rugby Canada’s various sources of funds. Those sources include Sports Canada, “Own the Podium” for men and women National 7”s Teams, as well as Federal Government support through the Athletes Carding System. The National Senior Men’s XV team receives financial support from World Rugby for the development of their team.
In the fall of 2015, the Provincial members of Rugby Canada addressed the ‘pay to play’ issue by voting to commit additional funds to offset much of the shortfall that created this issue. Rugby Canada Senior Management have also committed to find additional funds to help offset the costs of fielding the 2017 Women’s World Cup team. However, it is clear that the preparation and participation by our National Senior Women’s XV team will require additional funding to participate in the 2017 Women’s World Cup.
In reflecting on this situation, two members of the Rugby Canada Past Presidents Committee, Monty Heald and Barry Giffen began discussions with key members of the National Women’s team management and alumni to address the likely shortfall that was anticipated in preparing for the 2017 Woman’s World Cup. After detailed discussions with Mieghan Howatt – Manager of the Women’s National Team program, Steph White – A national team alumni as well as former member of the Board of Rugby Canada, Pat Aldous – Chairman of the Board of Rugby Canada, and Dawn Dauphnee, current Players Representative on the Board of Rugby Canada, a plan of action was drawn up. It was clear that current Priorities at Rugby Canada were such that sufficient additional funding for the National Women’s XV Team was unlikely. Therefore, new sources of funding must be found from within the Canadian Rugby community.
With this in mind, consultation with Mike Holmes, Chairman of the Board for the Canadian Rugby Foundation and Mark Wyatt, Vice President Canadian Rugby Foundation led to the belief that the best solution was to start an independent Fund with the umbrella services provided by the Canadian Rugby Foundation. This Fund was intended to ‘supplement’ Rugby Canada funding to ensure that the players selected to the National Senior Women’s XV Team will not be required to ‘pay to play’.
A Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up between the RC Foundation and a preliminary committee of interested and committed volunteers willing to take on the challenge of raising funds to eliminate the “pay to play” reality experienced by past National Senior Women XV teams.
The National Women’s XV Team Support Fund
This fund, set up within the structure of the Canadian Rugby Foundation, has now been established to raise funds to supplement Rugby Canada funding of the National Women’s XV Team that is required to prepare for the 2017 Women’s World Cup. It is anticipated that sufficient funds can be raised to allow some legacy funding for future Women’s World Cup teams.
Unlike most Funds within the Canadian Rugby Foundation which have a long term legacy component, this Fund will distribute the funds to the Women’s National team on an ‘as required’ basis. A committee of interested volunteers with administer the Fund, ensuring that all the policies and guidelines of the Canadian Rugby Foundation are also followed.
Naming the Fund – The Monty Heald National Women’s Fund
The organizers of the Fund have taken this opportunity to recognize and honor Monty Heald for his many contributions to Rugby in our country. Monty was made a Life Member of Rugby Canada in 2013. He was a tremendous ambassador for our sport, representing the Canadian rugby community at local, provincial, national and international levels. No challenge was too big, and he was one of two Past Presidents, the other being Barry Giffen, who formed a sub-committee of the Rugby Canada Past Presidents Committee to address the “Pay to Play” situation experienced by the National Senior Women’s XV team. They decided that we must work together within our community to eliminate the requirement for members of the National Women’s XV having to ‘pay to play’. Sadly, Monty succumbed to health problems and passed away in July, 2015. We hope that by recognizing him as a key leader of this Fund, it will ensure members of the rugby community in Canada remember the contributions he made, and motivate others to follow in his footsteps. Attachment #1 provides details of Monty’s contribution to the organization of our sport.
CURRENT SITUATION: Rugby Canada Management has established a program and a budget that they believe will allow the National Senior Women’s XV team to prepare and participate successfully in the 2017 Women’s World Cup. Although Rugby Canada and its members have identified the elimination of ‘Pay to Play’ as a priority for 2017, the budget suggests that there will still be a shortfall in 2016 & 2017. Therefore, funding received from Rugby Canada (RC) to support the National Women’s team (TEAM) will not eliminate the need for individual players to fund raise to cover some of the operating costs in order to participate in the National Team program.
The proposed MONTY HEALD NATIONAL WOMEN’S FUND will undertake to gain sufficient capital to overcome this shortfall in annual operating capital for our National Women’s XV team. It is our hope that the major sponsors, including government and the World Rugby will raise their level of funding as Women’s rugby gains more acceptance on the international stage. That recognition may take four or five years. Therefore, members of the Canadian rugby community are banding together to establish and provide financial resources to the MONTY HEALD NATIONAL WOMEN’S FUND.
OPERATION OF THE FUND:
It was identified that this FUND differs from most funds established under the Canadian Rugby Foundation. The traditional fund within the Foundation distributes income generated by the principal in the fund, without reducing that principal. However, the need to inject operating capital for the next four or five years into the National Senior Women’s Program defines the reasons for the establishment of this FUND. Therefore, it will be necessary to start a major initiative to immediately establish the FUND in the year 2016. It is acknowledged that the Team budget for 2015 identified the shortfall and a Player Assessment did help finance the activities with each player being assessed between $1,200 and $2,500 to participate in the development of the Team. The objective of the Fund will eliminate any further player assessments in preparing and participating in the 2017 Women’s World Cup.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE FUND
A Committee to manage the Fund has been established. The members include
a) Stephanie White –CHAIRPERSON – original captain of the first National Women’s XV team in 1987, Captain of the World Cup Teams of 1991, 1995, and former Rugby Canada Board member
b) Helen Wright – Member of the original National Women’s Team, former executive Director of Rugby Alberta, Coach of six straight national Women’s collegiate champions with the University of Alberta Pandas
c) Jill Zonneveld – Former member of: Rugby Canada Board – Director of National Women’s teams and retired from World Rugby’s (IRB) original Women’s Advisory Committee (1994 to 2002)
d) Liz Ferguson – former member of Rugby Canada Board, Alberta Rugby Board, long time member of Rugby Canada Senior Management staff, . Was involved in the creation of the International Rugby Board’s first Strategic Plan for the Development of Rugby for Women and Girls, endorsed in 2006.
e) Dawn Dauphinee – Former National team player, Players Representative on the Board of Rugby Canada
f) Cristina Flores – former Director of Rugby Canada, Rugby Ontario, Niagara Rugby Union, Chair organizing Committee Women’s National Championships 1997-1998, Also Director of Mexican Rugby Foundation for three years.
g) Roxanne Butler – Former Manager of the National Senior Women’s XV team
h) Andrea Burk – Long term National Team player
i) Araba Chintoh – Long term National Team member
j) Colette McAuley – Past President Canadian Rugby Foundation, Past Board Member Rugby Canada, Long term National Senior Women team member
k) Gillian Florence – Member of National Women’s World Cup teams for 5 consecutive World Cups starting in 1994,
l) Barry Giffen – Past President Rugby Canada
The National Senior Women’s XV Manager, Meaghan Howat will act as the Technical Advisor to the Committee.
The Fund was initialized with a target of $400,000 to be raised in 2016. This amount will eliminate all further Player Assessments in preparing and participating in the 2017 Women’s World cup. With this in mind, our Original Donors to the Fund have committed $50,000 to start the fund. These same Donors have offered to match additional donations to the fund from the rugby community, on a dollar to dollar basis, to a maximum of $175,000 additional dollars. If the community supports this Fund to a total of $175,000 in donations, our Target of $400,000 will be achieved.
As of January 15, 2016, the Fund has achieved a value of approximately $180,000. This has involved $50,000 from our original donors, The Captains Fund (another Fund under the Canadian Rugby Foundation chaired by Mark Wyatt), has contributed $7,500 for each of two years- 2015 and 2016. The Canadian Rugby Foundation (chaired by Mike Holmes) has matched our initial donations to the maximum allowable which is $20,000. The members of our initial committee that worked at establishing the Fund contributed a total of $30,200. Thus the donations to date of $65,000 have now been matched by our original donor.
However, for the fund to be successful it must realize the “Pay to Play” may not disappear in year one of the establishment of the fund. It is hoped that the players, their families and other supporters will make donations to the fund to ensure that it continues to grow as the five year plan evolves. Such donations will definitely contribute to the reduction in Player Assessments at the year progresses. In acknowledging the need for full participation, the FUND will apply an aggressive annual allocation of monies from the FUND to the National Women’s XV team.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE FUND
It is proposed that the administration of the FUND will be carried out by a committee of ten members including a chairperson. One of these members will be the Player’s Representative for Women’s rugby on the Board of Rugby Canada. The Committee will have a Technical Advisor who will be the Manager of the Nation Women’s XV Team Program.
The Chairperson and the ten remaining members will be selected from the Rugby Canada community and are expected to have had Provincial, or National, or international experience in administration of the game of rugby, specifically Women’s Rugby.
It is anticipated that the Manager of the National Women’s team program will bring forward proposals for the distribution of Allocated funds from the Fund for the consideration of the Committee. The Committee will be charged with ensuring the Allocation is distributed to meet the Objectives of the Fund, and in keeping with the philosophy and rules of the Canadian Rugby Foundation.
In addition, the Fund will appoint a Committee member who will report to the Board of the Canadian Rugby Foundation.