Rugby coaches leave Laurier

It seems more bad news has hit the Laurier rugby program.

Last Wednesday, the men’s team’s head coach Josh Windsor announced his resignation; then just a day later, women’s head coach Jennifer Armatage did the same.

“I simply didn’t like the direction the athletic department was going,” said Windsor, who has been coaching the men’s team for the past seven seasons and has helped 17 players achieve all-star status.“It’s difficult to recruit players with the uncertainty of the program. I didn’t feel I could look a player or his family in the eye and get him to commit to Laurier when I’m not even sure where the program is going.”

Windsor has moved on to the head coaching position with cross-town rivals the Waterloo Warriors, and will continue coaching at the high school and inter-county level. Armatage, meanwhile, has decided to focus her energies on her young children and her life at home, but will also maintain a coaching position at the high school level.

“The program needs stronger support from administration,” commented Armatage who had been named OUA coach of the year twice. “The entire athletic system needs to be re-evaluated from the top.”

The program’s approximately $20,000 budget still remains unfunded, obligating student athletes to raise the funds themselves in an effort to hold the team together. Meanwhile, there have been discussions about relocation to Laurier’s Brantford campus, or the potential termination of the program altogether.

“We began exploring the option of moving to Brantford because of their offer to fund the team,” explained Laurier’s director of athletics Peter Baxter. “The issue was addressed with the men’s team but it was determined there were too many problems, so it was decided the program would remain in Waterloo next season.”

With Laurier Brantford’s considerably smaller student population and the virtually impossible commute which would be required by current Waterloo-based players, the future of a team in Brantford seems bleak.

Both teams have been asked to assist in the recruiting process in an effort to replace the coaches by the May 22 job post deadline. With the lack of funding available, the head coaching position will be awarded a nominal part-time honorarium salary.

“We need to get better,” said Baxter. “After our seasonal performance review, we assessed that there are many areas of the department model that the rugby team needed improvement in.”

However, Baxter remains positive about the future of the program, despite the resignation of both coaches.

“I’m confident we’re going to find good replacements and move forward with the rugby program.”