Rugby Canada is pleased to announce Damian McGrath as Canada’s Men’s Sevens Head Coach.
The 57-year-old Englishman joins Canada’s Men’s Sevens program after leading Samoa’s sevens team the past year.
“After an extensive recruitment process we are very pleased to have someone of Damian’s experience and technical background joining Rugby Canada. We had extensive international interest in the role, with many World Series coaches applying,” said Jim Dixon, Rugby Canada’s GM of Rugby Operations and Performance.
“Damian’s appreciation for the rigors of the Sevens circuit, desire to work with and develop Canadian Sevens coaches, and his enthusiasm and experience of working with young, talented players, like we have here in Canada, were real attractions for us.”
McGrath led Samoa to a ninth place finish in the 2015-16 HSBC Sevens World Series and, in the penultimate series event of the season, captured the cup title in Paris. Samoa also claimed two plate titles, one bowl title and two shield wins during the 2015-16 season.
“With Damian at the helm we are very confident our Senior Men’s Sevens program will achieve significant success over the coming years, and be well positioned to compete for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” added Dixon.
Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, McGrath has held jobs in rugby league and union as well as sevens. McGrath worked with the Leeds Rhinos in England’s Super League and was England’s Assistant Coach at the 2000 Rugby League World Cup.
In union, he worked with England as a defence/skills coach at the 2005 Churchill Cup as well as their match against the Barbarians and has also worked extensively with England ‘A’.
On the sevens front, McGrath was part of England’s sevens coaching setup from 2001-2006 and was also part of their staff at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. That same year he led Great Britain to the World Student Games gold medal and in 2005 led Junior England Sevens to silver at the Junior Commonwealth Games.
“I am delighted to be appointed as the Head Coach of the Canadian Men’s Sevens Team. It’s a very exciting time for Sevens Rugby after the huge success of the Rio Olympics,” said McGrath from Samoa.
“The potential for success in Canada, over the coming years, was a big factor in accepting the role. I realize that the task ahead will not be easy but I look forward to the challenge and being part of a forward-thinking organization.”
The 2016-17 HSBC Sevens Series gets underway Dec. 2 at the Dubai Sevens where Canada has been drawn into a pool with Fiji, Argentina and Wales. The second annual HSBC Canada Sevens will return to BC Place in downtown Vancouver March 11-12. Tickets continue to sell well, with organizers confirming 80% of the stadium capacity is now sold and the remaining tickets are available through www.canadasevens.com.
“On behalf of the players I’d like to welcome Damian to Rugby Canada as our new Head Coach. We look forward to working with you as this season and moving towards the World Cup in 2018 and Summer Olympics in Tokyo,” said John Moonlight.
Canada’s Men’s Sevens program is coming off of a 13th place series finish in the 2015-16 season but two years ago tied their program best sixth place finish and their lone appearance in a cup final (Scotland Sevens). Canada is also the two-time defending Pan-Am Games gold medalists (2011 and 2015).
“On behalf of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors, I would like to welcome Damian to the organization and wish him all the best as he begins the process of securing Canada’s place at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan while maintaining core status on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series,” said Tim Powers, Chairman of Rugby Canada’s Board of Directors.
At this time, McGrath’s commencement is subject to Canadian Immigration requirements and both McGrath and Rugby Canada are working with the Citizenship and Immigration Canada to meet the requirements for him to be able to begin employment.