Representing your country is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but star rugby player Matt Tierney may get his second chance at next year’s Junior World Rugby Trophy in Portugal after representing Canada last year in Romania.
Tierney, 18, a first-year Humber General Arts and Science student, started playing rugby when he was in Grade 7. A friend had convinced him to try a new sport, but his first practice wasn’t all he thought it would be.
“I go to the first practice and I ended up hating it… my dad told me to stick with it, and don’t leave until you play the first game. I played the first game and I fell in love with it,” said Tierney.
Tierney plays the prop position on the field, a front row spot somewhat like a lineman in football. He said he fits the position perfectly when it comes to his height and strength level. His stature has helped him reach high levels in the sport.
“Matt has something you can’t coach, and that’s physical size,” said Tyler Leggatt, president of Upright Rugby Canada (URC). But his size isn’t the only thing to make him effective: “He is very focused, motivated and driven to be successful.”
It wasn’t all natural talent that got Tierney to where he is today. He has had help from many different coaches throughout the years, such as URC president Leggatt, Canada’s national under-18 rugby team coach Jim Delaney, as well as various Ontario rugby coaches and Humber rugby coaches.
Tierney is now a candidate to play for Canada’s under-20 (U20) rugby team. In October, Tierney and over 44 other guys were invited to the assessment camp in British Columbia.
“It was my dream to get to this point, and now that I’ve gotten here it’s hard to describe with words,” said Tierney.
The assessment camp is just the beginning and there is still a long way to go to reach the final team.
“We tested everybody for fitness and speed standards. We will test them again for fitness in the new camp in January, and we expect everybody to be a lot better at that camp. It will show how many people have been working in the months between the two camps,” said U20 rugby coach Ben Herring.
Tierney said going into the camp he felt that he was on the unfit side, which worried him.
“Luckily I got called back, and I’m not going to make the mistake of not following up with what they told me to increase,” said Tierney.
Herring said the two things that Team Canada is looking for when making their final decision will be attitude and work ethic.
With the 2015 Junior World Rugby Trophy set for Portugal, Tierney is hoping to be on that team to represent Canada.
“Singing the national anthem in another country with all your teammates beside you is an amazing feeling,” said Tierney.