Co-chairs of Friends of BCS Rugby, Tim McGee, QC ’75 and James Andrews, BCS’11, had the opportunity to chat with current Rugby World Council and Rugby Americas North Member, Cristina Flores, BCS’77, for the first edition of the Try Line rugby newsletter.
Q: Why is Rugby a great game?
A: Rugby is for all—all body types and athletic specificity. You can be tall, short, heavier, small, and there’s a special position for you in the team. It is a true team sport. The game isn’t all hit and hope. There’s both discipline and skill needed. It’s not only a physically demanding game but one of strategy too.
Camaraderie best describes the sport of rugby. Both teams will shake hands at the end of every game and transition over to a post-game social too—friends in rugby, friends for life.
Q: What is the future for rugby in Canada?
A: In short, similar values, Cristina explains. Rugby is gaining popularity in Canada, especially through the Toronto Arrows in the MLR, a Professional Rugby League, and enjoys quite a bit of media coverage in Canada.
It is still very hard to find sponsors to fund rugby in Canada, which presents one of the biggest obstacles. However, the women’s game and achievements have helped raise the image of the sport in Canada and a very successful 7’s International Tournament in British Columbia.
I’m pleased to see Sally Dennis, a woman as Chair of Rugby Canada, which will benefit rugby with new insight and energy and, of course, the women’s game. Sports Canada has well-established gender equality guidelines, compared to the rest of the world, and this benefits women’s rugby a great deal, but more work is to be done. In the meantime, Women’s rugby in Canada has seen an increasing number of players.
Q: What is the most memorable experience from your playing days?
A: After I had my three children, I went back to school and started to play again with the McMaster University Rugby Club side. At one of the games, I was throwing the ball into play from the sidelines, and my children were watching (ages four, six, and seven). I saw three totally bewildered faces. I took a moment to tell them, “mummy is having fun!” At that moment, I realized that rugby was a passion.
You can either love to play or not—no in-between. Running with a ball toward imminent physical danger with a great big smile on my face, it’s like being children and playing rough and tumble, exhilarating!
Q: What milestones would you like to see from The Friends of BCS Rugby?
A: I would like to see BCS rugby grow and become an important part of the BCS sports activities. BCS rugby has the potential to grow immensely. There is good competition in other private schools at BCS and in Quebec. The Quebec Rugby Union is well established and is a valuable resource at the college’s fingertips. Most universities, not only in Quebec but in Canada, offer varsity rugby. It is a natural stepping stone. Rugby clubs provide play and competition in the summer. Global professional rugby is always looking for players, and there are opportunities to play in professional clubs around the world.
According to The World Atlas, there are more rugby players in the world than hockey players, for example, making rugby the 9th most played sport in the world.
Q: What advice would you give to those on the committee?
A: Going on tour, which everyone loves. During the winter months, tours to the Caribbean would be a strong incentive to join rugby.
BCS could hold an international tournament to raise awareness and popularity.
Appleby College hosted the Canadian Men’s Rugby team practices and the Toronto Arrows. This could be done at the end of the spring term or in the summer. A partnership with Bishop’s University might help as well.
Invite International players and/or local talent to speak and show games of high calibre.
Contact Rugby Quebec and have a conversation. Is there an alumni game? I think there used to be.
Q: What advice would you give to those young rugby players?
A: Rugby is a way of life. Still played for the most part in clubs, it is a unique place to make friends and feel like you belong, and someone’s got your back. The whole family can belong to the club and enjoy watching the games, making friends—it’s a great place to socialize. Wherever you travel in the world, there’s always a rugby club you can contact and make friends instantly.
Q: If you were applying for the role of Prime Minister of Canada, what would your references say about you?
- Kindness and tolerance.
- Knowledgeable, culture and willing to listen and learn more.
- Tough in character and strength in endurance.
- Leadership and being a team player (all values earned through rugby).
We would like to thank Cristina for her time and passion in sharing her wonderful knowledge and insight into international rugby.