RWU Friend Ray’s Rugby has graced us with his presence again.
Vancouver, BC – In our review of RWU Class of 2013, we promised to work with the RWU Staff and spearhead the naming of the 2014 Class… And if a Rugby Canada Class of 2014 is to be named, it would help if a real Canadian was involved in the process, eh? So with a bit less fan fare, here are the 2014 Rugby Canada Players To Watch:
Jacey Murphy: Jacey Murphy is the Women’s Player of the Year. She was a two-time Canadian Inter-University Sports (CIS) Women’s Player of the Year (2010, 2011)… Female Canadian rugby players, like their USA counterparts, go to university, get noticed, finish their degrees and then get carded and play for the national team. Murphy spent 5 years at the University of Guelph and graduated in 2012. She is now playing her club rugby with the Aurora Barbarians and her talent has been recognized by the national team selectors and is a new contributor to the back row. We expect for her to grow in leaps and bounds and make the the Women’s RWC 2014 team for Canada. Credit to fellow Rain Man Rob Nichol for his insight into the women’s game.
Adam Zaruba: Young Adam is our Men’s Domestic Player of the Year. He could also have been our Young Player of the Year, as he is barely 21. One of the reason he stands out is that at 6’5″ 125kgs – he literally stands out. He played prop and lock for the Canadian U-20 side and was doing okay in the pack but he had so much speed that they thought to give him a try in the backs. So, his local club Capilano RFC in BC moved him to outside centre/wing. He scored a bunch of tries and now he’s playing 13 – incredible stuff. He may be Canada’s Lomu when it is all said and done, though he’s only been playing in the backs for less than a year. But if he continues to develop he could be in senior colours sooner than later. He has been reportedly doing well with the Development 7s side (the Maple Leafs) and is a non-traveling reserve for the 7s side right now, so he will likely make an appearance on the IRB 7s circuit in 2014.
Jeff Hassler: Jeff is our Men’s International Player of the Year. A veteran wing for Team Canada, he has shown himself to be reliable and consistent in the red of Canada. His performances have been so impressive that he signed a contract with Neath-Swansea Ospreys of the RaboDirect Pro 12 following the November Internationals. He has had a good start at the Ospreys, playing 14 games with 3 tries. His 3 tries came in the first 5 games. Since then, teams have adjusted to the Ospreys and Hassler. He is still solid defensively and will continue to hold down the right wing for Canada and likely become a first-choice winger for the Ospreys.
Jake Ilnicki: Jake is the Young Player of the Year. Like Adam, Jake also represented Canada at the U-20 level. Despite his beard and being 6’1″, he is only 21 and is a big, strong lad. So focused on improving and getting better, he followed a route taken by Men’s National team member Ray Barkwell and moved to New Zealand for a season. Jake joined up with the Auckland Colts (Auckland Provinical U-21 side) for their 2013 season. It was an impressive enough performance to get Men’s Head Coach Kieran Crowley‘s attention. The former captain of the U-20s played in the ARC (Americas Rugby Championship) and followed that up by playing in November tests against the AIG Maori All Blacks and in Europe earning a couple caps as a reserve tighthead.
Pat Kay: The Canadian U-20 program produced another gem in their 2013 captain. Pat is the 7s Player of the Year and gaining a following as a prodigious and outstanding young talent. In 15s, he can play flyhalf, centre, or fullback. He also has proven to have a huge left boot, allowing him to be able to kick for goal, touch and out of hand. His talents would have been on show in the 2013 ARC but he missed it with injury- though he did appear in the 2012 version. He’s fit again and has been named on the full 7s team. If all goes as plan, he will have a stellar 2014 and have an outside shot at the 2015 RWC or the 2016 7s Olympic qualifying team.
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Be sure to check back for our 2014 Canadian Clubs, Coaches & Management To Watch …