Duncan Ryan is a reliable member of the Prince Rupert community, whether he’s using his driving skills to haul freight, or the Rainmakers rugby team. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

MVP of the Week: Once a Rainmaker, always a Rainmaker

Duncan Ryan was one of the founding members of the rugby squad — now he’s securing the team’s future

Duncan Ryan was one of the original Rainmakers on the Charles Hays rugby team. Now, he is making sure the wheels keep turning on the program – literally and figuratively.

Ryan’s experience with the team as a player was born out of his desire for an after-school activity. The rugby team had just formed at Charles Hays, and Ryan figured it would be a good opportunity to get out and do some exercise. He quickly realized though that he would be developing many more skills while playing the sport.

“It taught me good team skills. It was a stepping stone for me to work with others and work in a team,” Ryan said. “It helped me build more friendships, and we got to meet people out of town.”

“We learned about each other, we learned on a personal level who we are,” Ryan remembered. “Even though we were kids back then, it was great to know who you’re going to be playing with and who you’re going to be playing against.”

Ryan remembers the team getting off to a bit of a shaky start, most notably in their first ever home game against Houston. “It was our first legitimate game, and we definitely didn’t have our ends together,” Ryan said. “But the main thing was that we had fun, and we had a team going. Practices were great, we had great coaches that stepped in without any hesitation. Seeing that they wanted to get going to help with travelling and expanding the program was special.”

“We just had the bare minimum of guys to play,” Ryan says of the early years. The program gained support as Ryan progressed through high school, but by the time he reached his senior year interest and participation in the sport had faltered.

READ MORE: MVP of the Week: Jon Phelan: Engineering a successful career on and off the field

Ryan graduated and went on to start his own trucking company, Ryan Brothers Trucking. He likes to haul lumber on his 18-gear flat-deck trailer, but with the downturn in the forestry industry is often forced to tackle other loads. Ryan has adapted well though, making deliveries all the way to Prince George and beyond.

Duncan Ryan (hat) was presented with a jersey signed by members of Team Canada for his support of the Rainmakers rugby program. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

More recently, there has been an upswing in rugby participation and interest in Prince Rupert. The Rainmakers team has come alive with new, eager players, many of whom have already made waves on an international level. Ryan decided this was his opportunity to foster this local talent, and help continue the commitment to the team that he had made back in high school. He became a benefactor to the Rainmakers rugby team earlier this year, easing a big chunk of the financial burden of being a sports team in a remote area.

“I wanted kids to get more practice time and game time, and eliminate the fundraising time,” Ryan explained. “I want to get the financial stress off the club’s shoulders, so they know they can afford to go to tournaments and that they can participate in these events, whether it be a local skirmish or going to tournaments and getting spotted by professionals.”

READ MORE: Canada’s national rugby team surprise Rainmakers with a special message from Japan

Duncan Ryan with the Charles Hays rugby team in Kamloops. The trip was made possible by Ryan stepping up to drive the team bus to the tournament. (Submitted photo)

As of last month, Ryan’s support went beyond the financial to the quite literal responsibility of ensuring the team was able to attend a tournament in Kamloops. “I got a call on a Wednesday night at 6 p.m. from Andy [Enns, Rainmakers rugby coach] asking if I could drive the bus. After about two hours talking to the bus company they said okay, come in with your papers and we’ll give you the keys.”

The following evening Ryan was behind the wheel, and the team was off on the long trip down to Kamloops. A skilled driver, even Ryan noted the many differences between driving a truck and a bus. The latter is top heavy, wheels underneath the driver instead of in-front, automatic transmission, and unlike Ryan’s truck has no pinpoints for turns or his usual 18-gear shifter. Still, Ryan says it was a “very smooth ride for everybody.”

Duncan Ryan drives the team bus on the long drive from Prince Rupert to Kamloops, and back. (Submitted photo)

It turns out, Ryan likely enjoyed the trip as much as the student athletes. “I’m trying to help these kids as much as I can and sponsor them as much as I can, so to see where that support is going and seeing the kids taken care of, going down on the road for the weekend there, that was a joy filler for me.”

Ryan continues to be amazed at how far the sport and the team has come at Charles Hays and in Prince Rupert since he started out. He hopes to continue playing a role in fostering the town’s talent, and help give kids life opportunities through the sport.

“It feels good to know that where we started from, dropping the ball every 30 seconds, getting all those calls on us, to see how far the program has advanced and see how much these kids are interested in the sport, and that they’re driving to their best ability is unreal,” Ryan said.

READ MORE: No stopping the Yaroshuk siblings

“To see kids go from just starting to travelling across the world is incredible. I want to make sure that that club is getting pushed ahead and Rupert is getting landmarked, not just for our port or other major services, but also our sports. Rupert could be labelled one day as one of the top notch places for rugby players.”

“That’s what drives me, to make sure kids get attention, and maybe score a scholarship with their playing time. I want to make sure the future stars come up.”

Ryan received the Team Canada jersey at a Rainmakers rugby awards night in June. (Submitted photo)

Ryan recalls how even during his early playing days, he and the other pioneers of the sport in Prince Rupert dreamed rugby could one day exist here in its current state.

“You know, if we don’t get it someone else will, as long as the program keeps going,” Ryan said of the building blocks they tried to lay down for future players. “To go from guys that hadn’t gone past Smithers, to people going international now, is just outstanding.”

“It makes me feel great to say that this is a program that is going to be around awhile and is grabbing more international attention, even the sport itself has grabbed more attention. The passion and drive from all the kids involved has been great.”

READ MORE: Awards night at Charles Hays for Rainmakers rugby squad

Ryan was honoured by the Rainmakers at their awards ceremony in June with his own personal jersey signed by members of Team Canada during their international play, many of whom featured at the recent Rugby World Cup. Robin MacDowell, who runs an academy on Vancouver Island and has coached many Rupert rugby athletes, worked to obtain the signatures. Ryan now has it framed in a case, and it hangs proudly at his work.

“They took care of me and now I want to take care of them to the best of my ability. And that’s why I’m paying it forward,” Ryan said.


Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sentencing hearings begin as Prince Rupert man pleads guilty to possession of child pornography

Mike Christopher Hagen charged with possession of child pornography earlier this year

Prince Rupert guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Chevron’s move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

COUNCIL: City of Prince Rupert planning to consider borrowing money, new RCMP online crime reporting

More: MacLean Magazine crime stats not surprising but misleading: RCMP, Nyugen gets ceremony

Cook serves up the icing on the cake for Prince Rupert

Triumphant home return for Josh Cook as Rampage roll River Kings on Hometown Hockey weekend

EXCLUSIVE | Ron MacLean on Prince Rupert: “A kaleidoscope for the eyes”

Rogers Hometown Hockey host on Canucks, B.C.’s First Nations story and hockey’s new reflection phase

WEB POLL: Is hockey part of your identity as a Canadian?

Prince Rupert is Hometown Hockey! Is the sport part of your national identity?

The Northern View presents Santa Shops Here in Prince Rupert

More reasons to spend your shopping dollars locally

Raptors fans show Kawhi the love in his return to Toronto

Leonard receives championship ring, leads new club to win

Process to identify those killed in Gabriola plane crash could take days

Canadian flight museum suggests Alex Bahlsen of Mill Bay died in Tuesday’s crash

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by pellet gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Most Read