Playing on home soil

Men’s rugby captain Lucas Rumball selected to play for Canadian men’s national team

Lucas Rumball (centre), has spent this summer with Rubgy Canada’s senior team playing against Japan, Russia and Italy.
Lucas Rumball (centre), has spent this summer with Rubgy Canada’s senior team playing against Japan, Russia and Italy.
Credit: 
Photo supplied by Derek Stevens

Earlier this month when Rugby Canada released their 35-man roster for their June international home series against Japan, Russia and Italy, Queen’s men’s rugby captain Lucas Rumball was shocked. The 20-year old flanker was selected in head coach Mark Anscombe’s squad that features both youth and experience.

While the fourth-year Queen’s student is already a decorated player — winning the 2014 Young Player of the Year for his time on the U-20 squad — he found his selection as an unexpected honour.

“I was surprised when I did get the call for this because I am so young and didn’t think this would be my year, but it has been so far and I’m excited,” he said.

In Team Canada’s first game against Japan on June 11, the team lost 26-22, struggling with missed conversion opportunities throughout the game. However, Rumball — one of the team’s newcomers — shone brightly in his role as flanker. 

On June 18, Canada beat Russia 46-21, with Rumball getting the start in the flanker role.  The final game against Italy is June 26 in Toronto.

At 6’4” and 209 pounds, Rumball is known for making big hits and big plays. 

The former captain of Canada’s U-20 team secured 45 points for the Gaels during the 2015-16 season and was named both the OUA Most Valuable Player and an OUA All-Star.

Rumball credits his successes with Rugby Canada to working with the Gaels coaching team, including Gaels analyst Peter Huigenbos and head coach Gary Gilks.

“You come into that environment and you know what’s expected of you there, so that translates over to the national team in a sense,” Rumball said. “They’re pretty diligent on making sure your skills are on point and you’re working hard and you’re training hard.” 

Teammates, both past and present, have also had an impact on Rumball’s experience.

In 2013, during Lucas’ first year at Queen’s, his older brother Jacob was the captain of the Gaels alongside Liam Underwood — who is also a part of Rugby Canada.

Rumball says that the OUA games he experienced while at Queen’s helped him in the test matches, “in terms of knowing where to be and what to do”, but the rest was a learning curve.

“Everything is accelerated,” Rumball said about playing in the international matches. “The pace is quicker and the physicality is increased, and it’s something that going forward I think I need to work on so I can be more effective throughout the game instead of just earlier on.”

Rumball tries not to let the fanfare, excitement and media presence of the international test matches impact his game.  

“When it comes down to it, it’s just fifteen guys on fifteen guys.”

Rather, he uses the logo over his chest to push him even farther. “Playing for the national team, there’s that added pride and a little extra bit of intensity and motivation.”

Even though the summer series is a high point in his rugby career thus far, Rumball looks forward to returning to Queen’s to chase a fifth straight OUA championship. 

“Having me, and guys like me, come up to national teams and get the experiences with different high level coaches and get a different view of the game and then bring it back to the team really helps us prepare and play a solid game.”

Playing on the national team has brought an unexpected increase in attention from young rugby fans. Rumball is surprised and flattered by this, and hopes to serve as motivation for younger players.

“If I could tell them one thing, it would be that hard work and grit and sticking to it can be better sometimes than skill or experience,” he said. 

“If you work at it don’t stop, just keep working hard and keep plugging away and eventually it will come.” 

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