This article is part of a lead up to the 2012 IRB Americas Rugby Championship. Rugby Canada will be featuring a collection of thoughts and articles from players past and present as well as local writers to provide a few different thoughts and perspectives.
Q and A with Connor Braid
I've had the privilege of knowing Connor since I was 16 and have been playing with him consistently since then. From Oak Bay High, James Bay Athletic Association, Crimson Tide, BC Bears and Tyee, as well as both 7's and 15's with Canada, it's hard to remember a moment of the game without him involved somehow. In saying that, I was curious to know if his reflections and motivations were similar to mine. Having been developed through the same grassroots set-ups and having the ultimate goal of playing for Canada, what would Connor's views be?
The ARC offers many top-club players in Canada that first step towards their, ever so elusive first test match. The ARC is a way for some to make a name for themselves to the coaches and offers the opportunity for ones play to raise the eyebrows of selectors weeks before the Autumn Tests Series in the UK this November. I asked Connor to answer some questions on the importance of the ARC pathway, as well as what it means to be playing for your country on home soil, better yet, in your home town.
SW: Did the level of ARC help prepare you for your first international? If so, how?
CB: Yeah absolutely, The tournament in 2010 was in October, after the ARC I was playing in my first international 3 weeks later. It was the perfect build up.
SW: With your ever increasing roll in the National Mens program over the last couple years, both 7's and 15's, what would you say is the importance of the ARC to players trying to break into the National Side like yourself?
CB: Well it builds healthy competition between players in similar positions. I feel like being an underdog in competing for a role means you have nothing to lose, and being the top dog means you can't get too comfortable because you have other guys nipping at your heels.
It helps start a bond between players and makes players very competitive, giving them that edge they need at the next level.
SW: What do you think the benefit is to play home games in Canada? What does it mean as a player, and for the growth of the game in Canada?
CB: It's hugely beneficial in that it exposes the game to a very multi-sport country that needs to see our ability to play this game at a high level. It's great as a player as I am so used to travelling to play the game. To play at home is a great feeling, but the pressure comes with it. Canada's a very proud country and proud people, no one here likes to lose!
SW: Having grown up in Victoria and playing every level locally, how will it feel to play in front of family and friends in Victoria/Langford?
CB: It's going to be awesome, people around town know that we're putting in the hard yards behind closed doors and its nice to have to opportunity to go out and test ourselves at an international level at home. My family is stoked to have the ARC here, as are a lot of people in Victoria and Langford. The more good rugby here the better.
SW: As mentioned, your grew up in Victoria, a fellow Oak Bay Grad as well. Who had the biggest influence on you as a rugby player and what point did you realize this could be more than a high school sport for you?
CB: I graduated in 2008, as a player I had former Oak Bay players that I watched and was lucky enough to play with as a young guy. The two that stood out were Phil Mack and Sean White. Both older guys who were making names for themselves through the ranks and I just wanted to be playing at their level. Ironically enough, I now see the two of them every day and travel the world with them, two very good friends of mine who were mentors at one point and now are awesome teammates.
SW: Who did you play in your first test cap? Can you remember one moment from that game you'll never forget?
CB: Belgium - I remember a hostile crowd in an awesome little venue. I vividly remember my first step on the field off the bench. Like no matter what happened, if I played like tar or played awesome, I was on the field representing Canada and no one could take that away from me. It felt like hard work being rewarded.
SW: Lastly, anything you would like to say to anyone reading this? Fans, supporters, future followers of the game?
CB: Come on down and enjoy the ARC!
I'd like to thank Connor for his time answering those questions. I can echo that fact that yes, playing in Victoria is a huge opportunity for the players. But also with that, I believe it is a large opportunity for Victoria's sports community to step up and show its support towards Rugby. Victoria's sport community is vast, and despite being a multi-sport city, I have no doubt, that Rugby Canada will become as household as the Royals, the Shamrocks, and other local Victoria teams.
These are just a few questions answered by Connor. Please do not hesitate, as fans, to get involved with the Rugby Canada players. Social media today has made huge strides towards creating and networking players with supporters. Feel free to follow players, and tweet your questions about upcoming games, tours, or camps. (Connor's twitter account @connorbraid / Sean's twitter account @whiteslither)