(Trinity Western University photo)

New leader starts rebuilding rugby program at private Langley university

Trinity Western University has brought in a new director to oversee its rugby programs.

Trinity Western University officially announced Andrew Evans as the director of rugby for the Spartans men’s and women’s rugby programs.

After helping guide the conceptual development of the programs, Evans has now officially taken on the directorial responsibility of leading both the Spartans men’s 15s and women’s sevens programs, which are set to begin competition in the fall of 2019.

“We are so excited to have Andrew Evans take on the challenge of bringing rugby back to TWU,” said Spartans athletic director Jeff Gamache, referencing the rugby teams that were part of TWU Athletics from 1988 to 2005. “Andrew’s passion to develop Complete Champion athletes within a rugby program is inspiring. I have every confidence that the young women and men that choose to come to TWU to play rugby will be challenged to be great people of character, great athletes and great students. As with our other programs, we have every expectation that the rugby program will be a top program in North America in short order.”

Evans, who was previously the Head strength and conditioning coach with Rugby Canada, and is a coach with the United Rugby Club, will lead the recruitment process, for 34 male and 18 female athletes.

“I’m excited to put together a unique program that will prepare men’s and women’s rugby players to pursue international and professional levels of rugby, while also caring for those people from a whole-person perspective,” said Evans, who is currently the Spartans head strength and conditioning coach. “We want to develop our athletes academically, spiritually and mentally while developing them as leaders.”

The men’s team, which will have the ability to offer full-ride scholarships, will operate largely as an independent program, with opportunities to play against high-level NCAA-affiliated competition. The program will also aim to compete in the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship.

On the women’s side, Evans envisions the sevens program playing within the Canada West conference. Beyond that, the team will target international tournaments, both in the United States and around the world.

“The Spartan rugby programs will be based largely on the international development system,” Evans said. “A lot of the program will be based off of what other countries and academies are doing to develop their youth and the next generation. I spent some time in New Zealand and in the UK with some professional franchises, and I learned how professional environments operate. We want to ensure that any graduates from TWU are able to jump right into those professional setups and excel.

“At the same time, we want to make sure our athletes succeed academically because that’s extremely important to us. In the end, it’s a small number of athletes who become professional or international rugby players, so we want to make sure our athletes are well-prepared for the marketplace of life in whatever avenue they wish to pursue.”

The TWU rugby teams will follow in the footsteps of a great rugby tradition at TWU, which saw the men’s program thrive from 1988 to 2004 and compete as a varsity program from 1996 until 2004. TWU also previously had a women’s rugby club program from, 1997 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2005.

“Trinity Western has a great rugby tradition, and I’ve played with some of our alums and we very much want them to be part of this program,” Evans said. “We want to build upon their foundation, and it’s essential that we have them involved and that they feel honoured by this program.”

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