The Canadian rugby community demanded action, and that’s certainly what they got on Monday. General Manager Jim Dixon has been axed with immediate effect while a half dozen of the financial department staff are also on their way out. Rugby Development Manager Dustin Hopkins will assume the GM role in an interim capacity as the search for a replacement begins.
Of the others set for departure the most notable are Chief Operating Officer Myles Spencer and Chief Financial Officer Linh Nguyen. The pair will see out their contracts with the company with their positions relocated from the Rugby Canada’s Richmond Hill office to the new Headquarters in Langford.
It’s a bold and decisive move from Allen Vansen, who stepped into the CEO role in February 2016. A string of poor performances at senior men’s international level has seen Canada dump 7s coach Liam Middleton and XVs coach Mark Anscombe in the space of a year, but with Canada’s age grade programs floundering as well and general discontent spreading across the country it was clear that significant organizational changes were required.
The restructuring will see the majority of Rugby Canada’s operations shifted to Langford, where the national rugby program is already based with the under-construction Al Charron National Training Centre opening in early 2018. Richmond Hill will be downsized with only the commercial and marketing department remaining under the leadership of Chief Marketing Officer Mark Lemmon.
Dixon was hired by then-CEO Graham Brown (now of USports) in April of 2015, joining Rugby Canada shortly after as a replacement for Mike Chu, who took a job with the New Zealand Rugby Union. The moves caught many by surprise with Dixon, also a New Zealand native, leaving a similar post at BC Rugby. He had previously been Director of Rugby at Ordizia in Spain and Basingstoke in England, where we was also a player-coach.