Photo Credit - David Hughes, University of Mary Washington Men’s Rugby
Academic Year: First year
Major: Bachelor of Commerce, Marketing Management
Years Playing Rugby: 7 years
Position in Rugby: Inside Centre
Why did you choose your school?
The University of Guelph was my first choice for post-secondary school because of the amazing balance of sports and academics. The men’s rugby team has established itself as a top 3 program in Canada, and the immense talent level in both the players and coaching staff creates a competitive atmosphere that encourages growth for its players on and off the field. U of G also offers a very reputable Bachelor of Commerce degree and provides great support for student-athletes, such as the Student-Athlete Mentorship program, which is a requirement for all first-year athletes. Another reason I chose Guelph is because of its natural setting; there are several large grass fields and an arboretum on campus. In sum, I decided to come to Guelph because of its competitive rugby program, the commerce degree I am studying for, and the beautiful campus.
What was the process of your recruitment like?
The year before I finished high school before I submitted my university applications, I started going through the rugby film I had of my games of the past few years, and I took clips of myself playing and edited them together into a short 3-4 minute video. When I was finished, I filled out rugby recruitment forms for each school I thought I might be interested in attending. The Guelph coach, Cory, invited me to tour the U of G campus with him and stay for a game against another university. On the tour, he introduced me to a few of the players, and I watched them play some of the best rugby I had seen to that point. A few weeks later, I told Cory I was ready to commit to attending U of G.
What are your favorite parts about being a member of the rugby program?
The absolute best part of being a part of this team is the people. Our shared goal for success drives us in the same direction, which brings us continuously closer as a family. On the field, we play for all 14 of our brothers on the field with us, and off the field, we take care of one another and keep each other accountable. There is never a dull day on this team - we always push each other to get better and be better and have a blast doing so.
What are your favorite parts about being a student at your school?
Guelph is a great place to be a student for a lot of reasons. Everywhere you go, you’ll be met with friendly faces, and you’ll probably see a few familiar faces too. Living in residence allows you to meet so many fantastic new people and build connections that will endure throughout your undergraduate years. The university plans engaging activities; for example, during the first week of school on campus, there is a first-year pep rally, a block party, and live music. Specific to being a rugby athlete, students, faculty, and friends alike love supporting the university teams. Below is a picture of the crowd at the 2022 OUA Men’s Rugby finals in Guelph in 2˚C weather.
Photo Credit: Guelph Athletics
How do you balance schoolwork and rugby?
The student-athlete balance can be tricky, but Guelph has an amazing mentorship program for first-year athletes called the Student-Athlete Mentorship or SAM Program. SAM connects first-years with upper-year athletes, and we meet once a week to talk about school, sports, and life. SAM is great because it allows you to get to know an older student to ask questions about classes, work/life balance, and anything else. U of G also provides several supports for students, including program counseling offices, tutoring services, and many more, each of which helps keep a healthy life balance.
What does a typical day and/or week look like for you?
During rugby season, a Monday will start for me in the fall, with classes at 11 am. Following that, I work or study until about 5:30 pm,, when we have a rugby meeting to discuss the weekly training plan and review game footage. The meeting finishes around 6:30 pm, and we head over to the pitch to begin training at 7 pm. We practice until 8:30 or 9 pm, then I get a light dinner and go back to my room to finish up some homework and go to bed. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have the option of either a 10:30-11:30 am or 11:30 am-12:30 pm workout, followed by a similar class schedule until the same 7-9 pm practice time. Wednesday’s schedule is similar to Monday’s, except we take the day off of training and use the meeting to prepare for upcoming games. On Fridays, there is a third programmed workout that we can complete on our own time, then we have a captain’s run practice for about an hour at 4:30 pm, leading into games on Saturdays.
In the off-season, we have a similar lift schedule to in-season and more skill and cardio-based practices on indoor turf on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. We also usually play a couple of friendly 15s matches (this year, we went to Concordia for a tournament and to Virginia to play the University of Mary Washington), as well as at least one 7s tournament (this year, we traveled to MacMaster University for a tournament).
What’s the biggest challenge about playing rugby at your school?
Time management is a huge challenge for a student-athlete. You’ll find that you spend a ton of time on rugby, whether it’s learning plays, or watching film, or lifts/practices. Having the diligence to plan your time accordingly so you don’t miss class deadlines is imperative but not always easy. On the field, the biggest challenges are playing with and against people who are bigger, faster, stronger, and smarter than you’re used to playing with and maintaining the standard the team sets. Our players demand that we be fit, smart, and always working to improve. Adjusting to the new environment while taking care of your mental and physical health can be challenging but manageable.
Photo Credit - Juan Alchourron, Siuxy Sports
Besides rugby, what else are you involved in on campus?
During my first year, I was involved with coaching an intramural hockey team some friends were playing for. There are many, many student-run clubs at Guelph. Next year, I’m interested in checking out some of the business clubs.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with a player who is interested in your school?
Don’t let your grades slip! Stay on top of your school work, sometimes you feel a ton of pressure from rugby and school, especially during Fall exams, but you can’t play your sport if you don’t take care of your grades. If you need help, there are many supports available from the university, so don’t be shy to seek them out and use them. Other than that, be ready to work hard and have a great time.