Devon Gall keeps his eye on the ball as he takes in practice with the Canadian National rugby team.

PLAY with the PROS – Rugby

Playing the hooligan’s game with Canada's national rugby team

  • Nov. 20, 2014 11:00 a.m.

After cautiously attempting outrigger canoeing and getting my volleyball butt kicked by the Camosun Chargers women’s team, I was sure rugby was more up my alley.

Sure, I’d played in school and taken a camp or two, but the Canadian national team showed me a still had a lot to learn.

The squad was training in Shawnigan Lake before last month’s Americas Rugby Championship at Westhills arena, and scrum-half Jamie Mackenzie took a break from training to set me up on the pitch. The south Island, it seems, is a hotbed for rugby in Canada thanks to our mild year-round weather and an already strong fan base, he explained.

Stepping onto the pitch, it was me and six national-level players, who, though they had just finished a day of tryouts, looked like they’d barely broken a sweat.

After beginning with a three-line passing drill, it was time to add a little challenge, bringing some defense into the play with three-a-side mini games. And while I managed to hold my own, I know these players, with muscles on muscles and tree-trunk legs, were taking it easy on me.

Not content to leave it there, of course, they finished my training with lineout practice. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a lineout involves having one player standing in front of you and one behind you. Working in unison to lift you up by the thighs, your “only” job is to hold your core straight and catch a ball thrown by a teammate from the sidelines.

Right.

I have never realized anything quicker than how much core strength you must have to be able to stay in the air for what seems to be a lifetime (really about five seconds). Despite accidentally booting the player behind me in the face on my first attempt, the guys stuck with it – and me – until I eventually executed an almost-satisfactory catch and throw.

Thank you Team Canada.

– Devon Gall

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