Rugby Canada have announced that Mark Anscombe has been appointed as their national team’s head coach 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 U20 Team, Anscombe helped secure a fourth successive title at the IRB Junior World Championships in Italy, having previously been an assistant 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 Rugby Canada’s General Manager of Rugby Operations and Performance Jim 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 season and his team started the season with an unprecedented 14 wins.
In Anscombe’s first season in charge they finished top of the PRO12 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 U20 Team, Ulster and Auckland in the ITM Cup, Mark brings a wealth of international and professional experience to our organization,” added Dixon.
“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.”
“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 11 in Vancouver, 18 in Calgary and 2 in Toronto.
“It’s an exciting time for Canadian Rugby,” said Anscombe.
“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.
“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.