Rugby players give cultural exchange a try

Jesse Suchorab loved the experience of discovering the Okanagan and playing rugby.

Jordan Janz of the Princess Margaret Mustangs dishes the ball off to Gage Buchanan while being tackled by Hayden Reinisch during a friendly match against the Bell High Bruins from Nepean

Jordan Janz of the Princess Margaret Mustangs dishes the ball off to Gage Buchanan while being tackled by Hayden Reinisch during a friendly match against the Bell High Bruins from Nepean

Jesse Suchorab loved the experience of discovering the Okanagan and playing rugby.

Suchorab, a Bell High Secondary student from Nepean, Ont., near Ottawa, said he’d never been out west and found the scenery beautiful. He also praised the friendliness and curiosity of people who spotted them and asked where they were from.

“The experience is overwhelming,” said Suchorab.

The Bell High Bruins and Princess Margaret Mustangs completed the first part of their YMCA Youth Cultural Exchange last week. It was an arrangement that was started by Mustangs coach Dave Bellomo and his former coach Allan (Bud) McCrae.

Bellomo contacted McCrae about teaming up for the exchange he learned about last spring. An application was sent in to receive grant money for the exchange provided by the Department of Canadian Heritage.

The most important part of the exchange said Bellomo is for the students to experience living in a different environment.

“The main idea of the exchange is to be billeted and live with a family,” said Bellomo.

“The Ottawa school was here for a week. It’s been great,” said Bellomo. “They have had a lot of rugby which is awesome for them because they have been training indoors mostly. This was their first opportunity to get out on grass.”

Before the students returned to Ottawa last Saturday, the two teams played at Princess Margaret on Thursday, with the Mustangs winning 10-7. Bellomo called the victory a confidence booster as the Bruins traditionally have strong teams and are favourites to go to provincials. The score was knotted at zero at half time until strong ball possession by the Mustangs allowed them to score twice thanks to Justin Gabriel and Gage Buchanan.

Suchorab said the Bruins competed in a tournament and played reasonably well and found that teams here are more organized.

“They are a lot tougher, know more about the game,” said Suchorab, who is entering his third year playing.

 

The Bruins wrapped up their trip by heading up to Apex Mountain with the Maggie students to go tubing. Other activities they enjoyed included visiting UBC Okanagan, Township 7 Winery, hiking up Skaha Bluffs and seeing various community locations. The Mustangs rugby team will go to Ottawa on April 16 and visit the Bruins. Among the things they will see is the parliament building, war museum and other parts of the region. They will also play in the annual tournament Bell High hosts with eight to 10

teams playing.