McGrath heads to Canada
NEWS: Englishman Damian McGrath has been appointed head coach of the Canadian Sevens team after coaching Samoa's Sevens side in the 2015/16 season.
The 57-year-old led Samoa to a ninth place finish in the 2015/16 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 season.
"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 rigours 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.
"With Damian at the helm we are very confident our 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."
Born in Bradford, McGrath has held jobs in 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 Saxons.
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 led Junior England Sevens to silver at the Junior Commonwealth Games in 2005.
"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 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 Sevens Series gets underway on December 2 at the Dubai Sevens where Canada has been drawn into a pool with Fiji, Argentina and Wales.
The second annual Canada Sevens will return to downtown Vancouver from March 11-12.
"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 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. Canada is also the two-time defending Pan-Am Games gold medallists (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 World 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.