Last November a local Prince Rupert rugby player took a giant leap across the pond and played in the Emirates Airlines Rugby seven’s tournament in Dubai.
Cody Schaeffer spent much of is his young life in Prince Rupert, a place where he was scouted for a track and field event and asked to lace up his cleats for a different sport, rugby.
From there he would go on to play for the North American Barbarians, a club squad that competes in some of the biggest youth rugby competitions in the world, like the one in Dubai.
The tournament invited teams from across the globe to the beautiful city to compete for a shot at gold, and for Schaeffer, even the invite came as a surprise.
“Having an opportunity to actually go there was a shock, like oh my god it’s actually happening,” Schaeffer said.
The Barbarians are coached by Cameron Wilton, a veteran of many international tournaments both as a coach and player, who said Schaeffer’s athleticism and upbeat attitude were more than welcomed on the pitch.
“When he came on he made an impact, his fitness was right up there with the national players on the squad,” Wilton said. “He was a breath of fresh air, positive the whole time, and he didn’t mind coming off the bench.”
While Schaeffer was a bench player he still figured into his team’s success, which for the tournament peaked in a close semi-final game against fellow North American squad, the Lions. The Barbarians fell 12-5 to the eventual champions, but Wilton said the Rupertite showed a lot of promise.
“When he was given open space, he beat people one-on-one quite a bit,” Wilton said.
The experience was like nothing Schaeffer had ever experienced before, and he knows just how lucky he was.
“Before every game, you get the butterflies in your stomach. Just nervous, but as soon as you make that first big tackle or run it goes away,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer will now look forward to his next big tournament. The Orlando Tropical seven’s tournament takes place this April, and Schaeffer will be joined by a few fellow Rupertites on the pitch, something that will just make the experience that much better.
“I feel so lucky to be invited back, Cam hinted about it in Dubai, but you never really know about it,” Schaeffer said. “When I found out that other Prince Rupert kids were on the team, it got me pumped.”
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