October of first year university is a nerve-wracking time. Dealing with midterms, essays and presentations all while trying to maintain something approaching a decent social life is hard enough.
Fly-half Liam Underwood is dealing with that, but also had to mentally prepare himself to start his first game for the rugby first team on Friday against the Guelph Gryphons.
Underwood said the grandeur of the occasion wasn’t above him.
“I was excited because it was my first start of the year,” he said. “Nervous too, because it’s a pretty big stage to be playing university rugby.”
That nervousness certainly didn’t affect his play, though. Underwood notched two tries and a conversion for 12 points on the day as the Gaels romped to a 31-5 win.
Unlike many rugby players, who pick up the sport in high school, the Toronto native said he’s been playing since he was a child as a result of his father’s participation in the sport. The roles are now reversed, though. Underwood said his father makes his way to wherever the Gaels are playing to see him in action.
“My dad played rugby at Balmy Beach so I grew up around it as a kid. I started when I was 9 years old just playing touch,” he said. “He was pretty excited [about my start]. He’s been to almost all of the games so he was happy for me.”
Being new to any group is difficult, but Underwood said training camp allowed him to bond with the team.
“I came up a week early for the training camp and you room with some older guys so that helped me get to know some guys,” he said. “You get to know everyone pretty quick and it’s a lot of fun because they’re good guys. Rugby’s a big team game so everyone has to know everyone and you have to be comfortable playing with everyone.”
Underwood said it’s sometimes hard to balance school and rugby, but Queen’s Athletics’ first-year academic program makes it manageable.
“It’s pretty tough just because you’ve got a couple of hours of practice almost every day, on weekends sometimes you’re always for whole days,” he said. “The program they do requires us to be in the library for at least 2 hours every week for supervised study and there’s a free tutoring service as well.”
What is your favourite team in any sport?
I like the Green Bay Packers in football.
Who is your favourite superhero?
The Flash. He’s a quick guy and I’m kind of a quick guy.
What do you think about UnderArmour?
Spandex? Not a really big fan of that. It’s not really my style. I don’t think we’re allowed to wear that on the Queen’s rugby team.
What is on your iPod?
Jay-Z, the Blueprint III.
Mullets or Mohawks?
Any hidden talents?
Nope, not really.
Anyone you’d trade lives with for a day?
Mark Sanchez, the quarterback for the [New York] Jets.
Childhood dream job?
I always thought I’d be a teacher.
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