When did you first start playing rugby?
I started playing rugby during my Grade 10 year at Oak Bay High School in Victoria, BC. I was fortunate enough to have been identified by the coach (Gary Johnson) who taught me the game and all it has to offer. During this time (2000-2003), Oak Bay had a really strong rugby team which provided me with a lot of great players to learn from.
What do you think are values that rugby teaches/instills in players?
I played a lot of sports growing up but none of them offered the same values and ideals that rugby does. Rugby is rooted in mutual respect between both opposing teams but more so between the teams’ officials. I find that to be a unique trait about rugby. It’s not often you see a 150lb referee lecture a 250lb man and hear “Yes Sir, sorry Sir, won’t happen again”. Rugby teaches trust, commitment, respect, but I think what it teaches you the most about is yourself. The game is harsh at times given the physical nature of the game and pushes you as a player to dig deep and push yourself. Each time this happens it strengthens you for the next time. I believe this is transferable to real life. Facing tough times strengthens you. And rugby is chock-full of tough times.
What are some of your career highlights?
I think one of my favourite highlights would be the first time I was given the opportunity to put on a Canadian rugby jersey in 2003 for the U19 national team. We competed in Durban, South Africa against some very strong teams. I think it was then that I decided that I wanted to see how far I could take rugby.
The next highlight would be my first 7s cap in 2006 playing in Hong Kong. Again, that experience gave me drive to push further.
Another one is my first 15s cap in 2009 against Ireland because of the competition it takes to earn a cap and to be able to join the list of national players I watched for years.
But I think the most memorable moment was winning a gold medal at the Pan Am Games on home soil. The Canadian crowd was awesome and really drove us as a team. It is rare as a Canadian rugby player to get the opportunity to play at home especially in front of such an amazing crowd.
What is your message to players who are thinking about trying Rugby but are unsure?
I would encourage everyone to give rugby a try. It’s unique in the fact that it offers a position suitable to all sizes and is an extremely inclusive game. I don’t believe in “sport specialization” and believe that what makes Canadians successful at rugby is our athleticism, that comes from people playing a variety of sports. That being said, rugby is different from those other sports with the emphasis on Respect first, Team first, Trust first. These pillars of rugby teach more than a game – they offer life lessons. I would encourage everyone to at least give rugby a try because I’m confident they will enjoy it!
What is your involvement with Thunder Rugby and promoting Aboriginal youth to play rugby?
I am the head coach of Thunder Rugby which is aimed at growing the game in Aboriginal communities. The program started in 2015 with a player pool of around 20-25 players. Since then, we have grown to around 60 players ranging from U14 boys and girls to U18 boys and girls.