SURREY — By the time B.C. high schools stage cap-and-gown graduation ceremonies this July for its Class of 2021, boys rugby will have missed two straight seasons of play due to the global pandemic.
Adam Roberts knew there was a need to keep high school rugby players and their families in the loop regarding the uncertain road to potential post-secondary careers in the sport.
Yet ever since putting out word of a free webinar in early March entitled ‘Boys Rugby Future Plans-What is out there beyond high school rugby’ as a means of educating players in Grade 10-12 of their options during these uncertain times, the response has been nothing short of revelatory.
“I thought I would put together a little webinar, but now it’s almost freaking me out,” jokes Roberts, the head coach of the senior varsity at Surrey’s Earl Marriott Secondary and one of the sport’s chief caretakers within the province.
Hosting a Free Collegiate Webinar for students in grade 10-11-12 March 3rd. Please spread the word. @bchambs84 @BCRugbyNews @BCSchoolSports @htsumura @bcrugbyunion @CurryHitchborn pic.twitter.com/GqsLNv5din— Adam Roberts (@adamcdroberts) February 5, 2021
“With what has been going on this year, with rugby a sport so much on the periphery, it sometimes takes a back seat,” Roberts adds. “So for the kids that want to keep playing and pursue the sport at university, with everything that is going on, it’s pretty easy to get lost.”
To that end, as of Monday evening, Roberts had secured participation from 14 different Canadian and U.S. university rugby programs. Players wanting to take part in the event run from B.C. across the nation, into the U.S., and even as far away as South Africa.
Some of the schools expected to take part: UBC, Trinity Western, Victoria, Calgary, Alberta, Concordia, Queen’s, Guelph, Royal Military, Trent, Mt. Royal, Toronto and Western Washington. (Full details on registering for the free events are included at the bottom of this story)
“I have given each coach two-to-three minutes to talk about their program,” begins Roberts, who is planning to have separate on-line opportunities following the webinar for players to have additional dialogue with specific schools.
As well, special guest Karen Fong Donoghue of U.S.-based The Ruggers Edge, will make a presentation Roberts feels is indispensable for student-athlethes looking to make the transition to the college/university game.
“She is specifically a university rugby prep person,” says Roberts, who has in pre-pandemic times, flown Fong Donoghue up to the Vancouver area as a keynote speaker for high school rugby recruiting fairs.
“Say you’re a Grade 10 rugby player,” he continues. “She helps from the SAT prep to college application prep, and really looks at the holistic picture of putting together an application to whatever university you want. She is absolutely amazing.”
The chore of finding that university where the rugby-based requirements mesh with educational specialty can be tough at the best of times.
For those within the Class of 2021 graduating high school seniors, who have uniquely missed not only two high school seasons but their club campaigns as well, they represent a level of pioneering outliers never before seen.
Roberts offers them all his best virtual hug.
“You generally see a lot of kids come to rugby in this general age group,” continued Roberts, “perhaps when their hockey or basketball careers haven’t worked out the way they thought. They are great athletes who see a future in rugby, maybe right to the national team.
“That is what is so sad right now,” he continues. “Rugby right across the country is going to have a real struggle coming out of this pandemic because there really hasn’t been any rugby. So it will be great to get some impetus into it for next year.”
That said, what does Roberts think university coaches will be most interested in determining from a graduating class which could be distinctly lacking in up-to-date game film?
“What it will come down to are the intangibles that you can’t really coach,” he explains. “Is the kid a committed kid in the classroom? Have they found the motivation within these COVID times to do their workouts? Have they stayed internally motivated through these tough times?”
For more information and to register for the event, email Adam Roberts at firstname.lastname@example.org
The meet ID is 915 3046 8688 (PC — 285268)
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