Rugby Canada fired Jamie Cudmore, a former star player tasked with developing the next generation of talent, Friday for a series of social media posts belittling the women’s rugby sevens team.
His posts were aimed at the team of seven for their disappointing performances at the Tokyo Olympics.
Much was expected of the Canadian women in Tokyo, given their performance in Rio and the fact that they were tied with Australia in points for second place in the World Rugby Sevens Series standings when the pandemic ended. to the season last year.
But the Canadians lost to Fiji and France after beating Brazil and missing the quarter-finals. Their next match in Tokyo is for ninth place.
Cudmore, a henchman on the rugby pitch during his time playing, served as an assistant coach for the 15-year-old Canadian men’s team and led Rugby Canada’s national development academy.
The comments coming from within added to a year of unrest for the governing body and the women-at-seven, who filed a formal complaint in January under Rugby’s bullying and harassment policy Canada.
Cudmore apologized for the messages but was relieved of his post shortly thereafter. Rugby Canada called the messages “unacceptable and contrary to the organization’s policy”.
“It was a heartwarming event for a good friend and I let it get the better of me,” Cudmore said on Twitter. “I have always played / coached with my heart on my sleeve for this great country. I’m sorry if I offended someone.
The good friend is former Sevens coach John Tait.
Following the complaint filed by 37 current and former team members, an independent review concluded that while the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not meet the definition of Rugby policy. Canada of harassment or bullying.
Tait, while maintaining that he had done nothing wrong, subsequently resigned.
A former Canadian international, Tait was one of Rugby Canada’s most successful coaches, leading the seven-team to bronze at the Rio Olympics.
Controversy has divided Rugby Canada, with most of the Tait employees starting.
It looks like Cudmore couldn’t help but shoot the women given their Olympic performance under the guidance of interim coach Mick Byrne.
“Karma is a bitch!” #Survivorsmyass, ”read a since-deleted Cudmore tweet.
“Rugby Canada stands in solidarity with our female 7s athletes,” the governing body said in its initial response on social media. “We support the team in their efforts on and off the rugby pitch and are proud of the way they have represented our country. Rugby Canada is aware of recent comments from the team on social media and has been working to ensure they are removed as quickly as possible.
“Our organizational values include solidarity and respect, and all of our staff should help create an inclusive environment for all. We condemn any inappropriate comments to the team and our management will meet to resolve this matter immediately. “
Rugby Canada increased the stake a few hours later, relieving Cudmore of his duties. CEO Allen Vansen said in a series of tweets that the organization concluded “immediate action must be taken.”
“Rugby Canada’s core values, including integrity and respect, must be exemplified in all of our rugby programs and we are committed to fostering a healthy and inclusive culture now and into the future,” said the President of the Rugby Canada. Rugby Canada Board of Directors Sally Dennis in the press release.
Cudmore won 43 caps for Canada, competing in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups. The 6-foot-5, 257-pound forward is one of Canada’s most famous exports – a tough man on the rugby field who was no stranger to suspensions for taking matters into hand on the pitch.
Several of Cudmore’s deleted tweets were captured and posted by seven-a-side player Charity Williams.
“I wanted to take this moment to talk about our performances and how proud I am of this team beyond any results,” Williams wrote on Instagram. “Because I am, and what we’ve accomplished this year is so much more than a weekend. What this team is and what we have become means that young female athletes across Canada can play their sport and feel safe and secure. I’m proud of it.
“But instead, I have to sit here again and share what we’ve been through as a team. The constant hatred we have received from people in our own organization. I’m only sharing because that’s what we’ve been dealing with for months. From private texts to online and in-person stalking. The bullying and harassment we have suffered for coming forward can be outrageous and frightening. This is the reason why we asked for an internal investigation because we were not safe.
As a result of this investigation, players said they were disappointed with Rugby Canada’s policy on harassment and bullying – which has since been updated and replaced.
Rugby Canada said it is planning a “detailed and independent review of all performance rugby programs starting next month with the aim of positioning teams to succeed in supportive and inclusive environments.”
Captain Ghislaine Landry also took to social media from Tokyo.
“We always knew it was more than rugby, more than a tournament, even though it’s the Olympics. We knew the last nine months could jeopardize our Olympic dream, we had this group discussion, and yet the decision was clear. We were ready to put our dreams at risk for change.
“It wasn’t a distraction, but it cost us dearly. And so, while our hearts are broken that we couldn’t play our best, we are proud and united. “
In a statement released on April 28, the players said their complaint “explained the psychological abuse, harassment and / or intimidation these athletes feel they are subjected to in the centralized training environment.”