The centralization program is not new. But Wednesday's announcement marks the September start of the next phase of the sevens program which is targeting the 2013-14 IRB Sevens World Series, the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and ultimately the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the sport will make its debut.
While the money is being directed to the sevens form of the game, the 15-man teams also benefit by having some of its domestic players in a high-performance set-up.
The roster of carded athletes illustrates the emphasis put on the women's side of the sevens program. Because of the women's success in sevens, they have been rewarded with a bigger slice of the pie from Sport Canada and Own The Podium than the men.
The women have received carding for 24 athletes from Sport Canada's Athlete Assistance Program, ranging from partial funding of $900 a month on a development card to $1,500 a month for a full senior card. The men got 18 cards.
The women's sevens program is due to get $1.7 million and the men $750,000 from Own the Podium in the 2013-14 funding year. That money supports the program rather than go directly to the players.
The centralized players will primarily work out of the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, B.C.
Steve Lancaster, Rugby Canada's manager of high performance, says the new program is comparable to that of the previous year, although there has been turnover on the women's side with a nod to youth.
"It's a constant balancing act for us, between ensuring that the team is capable to perform on the world stage but also making sure that we're blooding the younger development players with an eye to 2016 and beyond," Lancaster said.
The extra cards help that cause. The women's side of the program also benefits from the fact that multi-sport athlete and Olympic champion Heather Moyse gets her carding via bobsled.
The men's carded group, meanwhile, went through fewer changes.
Coached by John Tait, the Canadian women were runners-up to powerful New Zealand at this summer's Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow. They also placed third in the inaugural IRB Women's Sevens World Series.
The women were runners-up at a tournament in Amsterdam and went undefeated at the Hong Kong Sevens.
The Canadian men, coached by Geraint John, won the consolation Plate in Moscow where they lost only to the All Blacks. The Canadians, restored as a core team, finished 12th overall in the annual HSBC World Series, with standout performances on several stops of the tour.
The funding emphasis on the sevens game is bad news for front- and second-row forwards. Rugby Canada hopes to help those players through its own fundraising.
In the 15-player version of the game, the Canadian men — coached by Kieran Crowley — are currently ranked 15th in the world while the women are coming off two wins over powerful England in claiming their first Nations Cup.
The Canadian men, who turned heads with wins over Fiji and Tonga this summer, defeated the U.S. last month in a two-game series to qualify for the 2015 World Cup.
The Canadian women are aiming for the 2014 World Cup under coach Francois Ratier. They are coming off two wins over powerful England in claiming their first Nations Cup.
Rugby Canada's Carded Athletes
Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club, Trois-Rivieres, Que.; Emily Belchos, Markham Irish, Barrie, Ont.; Nikki Case, York Yeoman, Toronto; Hannah Darling, Peterborough Pagans, Warsaw, Ont.; Jessica Dovanne, Velox RFC, Victoria; Arielle Dubissette-Borrice, Toronto Scottish, Toronto; Bianca Farella, Town of Mount Royal RFC, Montreal; Paige Farries, Druid RFC, Red Deer, Alta.; Megan Gibbs, Markham Irish, Barrie, Ont.; Julia Greenshields, Sarnia Saints, Sarnia, Ont.; Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Sara Kaljuvee, Toronto Scottish, Pickering, Ont.; Jennifer Kish, Edmonton Rockers, Edmonton; Ghislaine Landry, Toronto Scottish, Toronto; Mandy Marchak, Capilano RFC, Winnipeg; Kayla Moleschi, Williams Lake Rustlers, Williams Lake, B.C.; Jess Neilson, Carson Graham Secondary School, North Vancouver; Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby Quebec, Quebec City; Nadia Popov, Aurora Barbarians, Newmarket, Ont.; Frederique Rajotte, Markham Irish, Markham, Ont.; Kelly Russell, Toronto Nomads, Bolton, Ont.; Ashley Steacy, Lethbridge Rugby Club, Lethbridge, Alya.; Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club, Vancouver; Charity Williams, Markham Irish, Toronto.
Connor Braid, B.C. Bears, Victoria; Nanyak Dala, Castaway Wanderers, Saskatoon; Justin Douglas, Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford, B.C.; Sean Duke, UVic Vikes, Vancouver; Mike Fuailefau, Castaway Wanderers, Victoria; Lucas Hammond, Castaway Wanderers, Toronto; Ciaran Hearn, Castaway Wanderers, Conception Bay, N.L.; Nathan Hirayama, UVic Vikes, Richmond, B.C.; Harry Jones, Capilano RFC, West Vancouver; Pat Kay, Cowichan RFC, Duncan, B.C.; Adam Kleeberger, UVic Vikes, White Rock, B.C.; Phil Mack, UVic Vikes, Victoria; John Moonlight, James Bay AA; Pickering, Ont.; Mike Scholz, Castaway Wanderers, Oakville, Ont.; Jack Smith, Peterborough RFC, Peterborough, Ont; Conor Trainor, University of Western Ontario, Vancouver; Jake Webster, Lindsay RFC, Lindsay, Ont.; Sean White, James Bay AA, Victoria.