The only downside Ty Cheyne can see about participating in rugby 7s at the B.C. Summer Games in Nanaimo this weekend is the travel itinerary.
The Fulton Grade 9 student left for Nanaimo on a bus with Zone 2 Okanagan teammates at 1 a.m. Thursday in preparation for the opening ceremonies and start of competition today.
“Leaving at 1 a.m. is ridiculous,” laughed Cheyne, who helped the Maroons’ Grade 8 rugby squad in the spring go undefeated.
A back who can play wing or outside centre, Cheyne’s speed had something to do with him being picked for the Okanagan squad.
“I had more practise time than the other players and while I’m not one of the strongest players, I have the skills and my speed definitely helps me,” said Cheyne, who only took up the sport a year ago, but has participated in dad Gord Cheyne’s youth touch rugby program the last two years.
Dad will be in Nanaimo as an executive member of the Okanagan team.
“It’s going to be nice to have my dad there supporting me and our team,” said Cheyne. “It’s also going to be nice to know somebody else on the team.”
The Okanagan squad had about five tryout practices and participated at a tournament in Vancouver to pick the squad that will compete in rugby 7s, which differs from regular rugby in that there are only seven players on the field (as opposed to 15), and play goes for seven minutes.
“The 7s game has much more of an open field and you can’t stay still, you have to move the ball,” said Cheyne. “It’s seven minutes of intense running.”
Cheyne is a big fan of the legendary New Zealand All Blacks international squad, and one of its players, Conrad Smith.
“I like the flow of rugby,” he said. “If you run and you get tackled, you know your team is going to help you. It’s more of a team game.”
Early morning travel aside, Cheyne is eager to begin competition today.
“I’m looking forward to the B.C. Games experience, and to the tournament,” he said.
The Vernon Youth Touch Rugby program donated $500 towards expenses for the Zone 2 rugby 7s squad.