Rugby Canada’s holdout men’s rugby sevens players have brought in a heavyweight adviser.
Now in the second week of a holdout from Rugby Canada XVs training camp in Langford, the 13 players have been refusing to sign contracts that would see a decline in their pay and a reduction in the profile of their program.
Rugby Canada leadership had given the players until Tuesday to sign their contract, saying the players would be out of the program if they didn’t sign. It was the third time officials have told the players this since the end of August.
Sources have confirmed the sevens players are now being advised by Ken Georgetti, a former head of the Canadian Labour Congress and the B.C. Federation of Labour.
The players are also being advised by Mel Reeves, a Vancouver lawyer and businessman. Reeves has been advising the sevens players since 2016, when the players previously withheld their services over contract conditions.
At the centre of the dispute is the plan from senior leadership to effectively end the men’s sevens squad as an independent entity. Rugby Canada officials say there isn’t financing to pay for a separate squad; the players insist there is and point to the high profitability of the Canada Sevens men’s tournament.
The players said they agree there is a short-term need to shore up the men’s XV squad ahead of a last-chance Rugby World Cup qualification tournament in November.
They are talking about creating an association to represent them, sources said.