Rugby captain rebounds from concussion year

RUNNING WITH IT: Peter Collins has a firm grip on the ball as he heads his relatively new rugby team against longer-established squads in CISAA.

Grade 10 student leads four-year-old program into finals

Peter Collins is persistent.

It’s helped as the captain of the St. Michael’s junior rugby team led his squad to a CISAA championship final.

Shamrocks coach Lafaele Taua couldn’t be happier.

“The team listens to him,” he said of his star prop, adding Collins’ experience at the club level with Oakville Crusaders as well as the provincial under-14 and under-15 teams is reason enough to be all ears.

Still, the grade 10’s persistence comes from his passion for the game. Last year, during a regular season game against Upper Canada College, one where he scored two tries, he suffered a concussion.

He’s recovered, but he’s missed some vital playing time.

“This summer is going to be pretty vital for me because I’ve got to make Ontario,” he said. “Last year I was out with a concussion, so this is my rebound year.

“From there hopefully I can get scouted for Canada, and from there I’m hoping for professional.”

Still feeling the affects of the initial concussion, Collins hoped his team would prevail in the final against UCC, May 28. Unfortunately for him the Shamrocks came up short falling to UCC 29-12.

“We haven’t been really practising that much. It’s all about mental preparation,” he said. “Our coaches have told us everything we need to know, we’ve worked on everything.

“It’s down to us getting ready for everything mentally.”

Taua agreed.

“To me they’re ready for the game,” he said.

Some might shrug off the junior squad’s feat as being part of the St. Michael’s athletic prowess, but in this case it’s in a program that’s been around for only three years.

Rugby director Stephen Bailey is thrilled with the turnaround.

Four years ago, Luke Reda, the son of TSN sportscaster Gino Reda, spearheaded the program.

“Basically it was 30 kids on a city park that wanted to get the program up and running,” Bailey said. “I was approached to kind of moderate it.”

After three years of official competition, the juniors are vying against teams in CISAA that have had rugby programs for 20, 30 years.

Collins, playing the sport since the age of 11 has shown promise that hard work pays off. And the 16-year-old is charged by his St. Mike classmates showing their spirit.

“It’s going all around the school, kids are getting excited about it,” he said. “I know I am and the team is. It’s going to be big.”

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