After another disappointing season for the St. Thomas University men’s rugby team which saw them go 0-6, head coach Curtis Lauzon has decided to step down from his duties.
“The reflection happened throughout the season,” Lauzon said.
This season’s results were difficult for Lauzon’s team.
“There was indication that just following the season that [the coaching staff] would look at something different,” Lauzon said about his decision to step down.
Lauzon has a high-performance rugby background, having won three Ontario Collegiate Athletic Association championships during his time as a player at Humber College. He has also been involved with provincial and national teams as a coach and a player.
The Tommies, who made two straight New Brunswick finals appearances in 2015 and 2016, have failed to make it back since Lauzon’s arrival. Lauzon, the technical director for the New Brunswick Rugby Union, said the Tommies have a major disadvantage when it comes to rugby. Other schools such as the University of New Brunswick and the University of Prince Edward Island are able to have players on their roster who are not enrolled in the school. STU does not allow this, as it treats its rugby team as a varsity sport rather than a club sport. He hopes that removing his head coaching can let him focus on making the league more legitimate.
“Right now there’s not much of a relationship between the NBRU and the university league as it stands, knowing that with changes of insurance and different policies coming through, this is going to let me step back and really see how we service [the relationship] better.
Lauzon said after discussing with the coaching staff, he regrets not putting more emphasis on the enjoyment and social side of the sport, rather than focusing on performance. He said he believes it would have brought more players into the program.
Third-year player Zach Klassen said he knew the resignation was a possibility nearing the end of the 2019-20 season. He said he has spent of a lot time with Lauzon, on and off the pitch, whether they’re working together or playing.
“There hasn’t been any lack of coaching effort on his side but I understand that he needs to take more time to himself,” Klassen said.
“[Lauzon] as a coach has a great knowledge of the sport and how to lead a team in terms of lifting spirits and building athletes. His coaching has taken many beginners, mid-level and high-level athletes to a much higher level.”
Klassen said he isn’t sure who will fill Lauzon’s shoes for next year, but mentioned most of the coaching staff are STU rugby alumni. He senses there is a possibility the trend will continue. He said he would love to see anyone from the current coaching staff of six be promoted to the head coach role.
Despite the Tommies struggles this season, Lauzon has trouble seeing this past season as a rebuilding year. He said this year’s team had a great group of seniors. He said it will be up to next year’s returning players to perform and set a high standard for the first-year players.
“In the sense of the word [rebuild], where we have a great group that’s returning, I think that’s more of a focus for us,” Lauzon said.
“It’s not that we’re rebuilding from scratch. We’ve got a ton of good second and third-year players players that can be dominant in the league.”