Former Canadian women's sevens coach John Tait hired by B.C. Rugby

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Former Canadian women's sevens coach Tait has been named B.C. Rugby's new technical director.

B.C. Rugby said Tait will report directly to its CEO and play a "vital role in building upon B.C. Rugby’s long history of success on the field."

Tait, who led the Canadian women to Pan American gold and Olympic bronze, resigned as women's sevens coach and high-performance director in April in the wake of an independent review into a players complaint pursuant to Rugby Canada's harassment and bullying policy.

Rugby Canada said while the review concluded "the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the 37 NSW7s (national senior women's sevens) athletes," it was not behaviour that fell within the then-policy's definition of harassment or bullying.

The exact nature of the allegations against Tait has not been made public. Tait called them "unfounded."

“I appreciate some people may be concerned with this appointment, but the interview process directly addressed the Rugby Canada report, and we’re confident John is the right person for this position and will bring his learnings from the last year to better our programs," B.C. Rugby CEO Annabel Kehoe said in a statement.

"We look forward to John joining the team and together we are fully committed to continuous learning to ensure what we do represents best practice.”

Tait led the Canadian women to a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, gold at the 2015 Pan-American Games and silver at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens.

Tait, an imposing figure at six foot eight, won 37 caps for Canada from 1997 to 2002. He played professionally in Wales with Cardiff and France with CA Brive.

He was a coaching constant at Rugby Canada for more than a decade, served as an assistant coach with the men's 15s team and head coach of the women's 15s team prior to focusing on the newly centralized sevens women in 2012. In August 2019, he was given added responsibilities, handed the high-performance role on the women's side in addition to his sevens head coaching duties.

"It’s no secret that it has been a difficult year and I’ve learned a great deal from this time," Tait said in a statement. "Looking forward, I aim to continue learning to support both coaches and players on and off the pitch.”

In announcing the appointment, B.C. Rugby said it expects all of its staff to complete "Respect in Sport" training by the end of October.

The governing body for rugby in British Columbia represents more than 8,000 individuals registered through some 60 member clubs and associations.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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