At the heart of another impressive season for men’s rugby is rookie flanker and placekicker Alex Colborne. Colborne, who grew up in Bristol, England, has played rugby since he was a child.
“I began playing at age six and it’s the only sport I ever played,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to expect coming to Queen’s, but I was impressed by the quality of players.”
Colborne’s first exposure to the university was through his father.
“My dad did his PhD here, so that’s how I knew about it,” Colborne said. “I just wanted to do something new. It wasn’t necessarily for rugby, but I just love it here.”
After playing last season with the Gaels’ reserve unit, Colborne has seen himself transition to a key role with the first team.
Some of Colborne’s strongest games this season include making five conversions in a 76-14 rout over Waterloo, and converting two penalty kicks in crunch time to seal a 14-9 victory over the rival Western Mustangs.
Despite a bevy of excellent individual performances, Colborne is focused on the squad as a whole, and how his personal play can translate into wins for the Gaels.
“Individually, you try to better yourself every week,” he said. “You practice like you play. My goal was to be prepared every week to make sure I was on top of my game.”
On performing in the clutch, Colborne said he thrives under pressure,just as the team as a whole elevates their game when they’re “up against it.”
“I found my form as the season progressed, much like some of the other guys,” he said.
Colborne largely attributes the team’s impressive season to coaches Peter Huigenbos and Gary Gilks.
“Our coaches are brilliant,” he said. “We have alumni, Scott Kyle in particular, who help coach as well. They set high standards and they push us. They’re perfectionists.”
For Colborne, preparation and team camaraderie off the pitch is equally important.
“The entire team is very tight-knit,” he said. “We have a strong system and a ton of support. You can’t build a team on the pitch without being close off of it. You rely on the guys next to you on every possession.”
Colborne said the atmosphere on the Gaels’ year so far has been very positive.
“No one really knew what to expect,” he said. “It’s been a recreating sort of year. There was a lot of space for new guys to come in and get a spot.”
With the team riding some serious momentum, Colborne is confident looking towards the playoffs.
“You always just want to win. That’s expected of us coming off of three
Colborne and the Gaels now have their eyes on the tournament, starting with an OUA semifinal on Saturday.
“We have the pieces to get it done [again this year],” he said. “We’ve handled the pressure well so far and expect to win each game we play.”
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