On Sept. 9, another Prince Rupert rugby player will be testing his talents against high-level competition.
Cody Schaeffer, 19, is travelling to Vancouver where he will play for the Meralomas, one of the top teams in the British Columbia Rugby Union playing out of Kitsilano.
“I’m speechless about it because I come from a small city,” said Schaeffer. “For a team from Vancouver to say ‘we want you to come play for us’ is an honour.”
The Meralomas presented the offer to Schaeffer after competing with him during the annual Chilliwack Sasquatch tournament on Aug. 18. Schaeffer — who plays scrum half and wing — travelled to play in the tournament with the Prince Rupert Seamen, but also subbed to play with other teams who were short players.
“He was a stud out there,” said team captain Cody Curry after the tournament. “He was probably one of the top-three players out of everyone from that tournament.”
The Meralomas were so impressed with Schaeffer’s play that they invited him to play with the club, offering to find him work and a place to live and train in Vancouver as well.
“I had no expectation of that happening,” said Schaeffer. “I went down there to play and have some fun and it turned into this opportunity.”
Schaeffer said his Seamen teammates were also excited to hear the news.
“They were very happy for my opportunity and said they wanted to help in any way they could whether financially or motivationally,” he said.
Schaeffer said he will begin his stint with the Meralomas playing on their developmental, division-three team and work his way up to the premier league squad. He said he is looking forward to challenging himself against better players on a weekly basis.
“In Rupert we only get to play against the same teams every few months,” he said. “There it will be playing against different levels of teams and players every weekend and that will help me improve.”
Long term, Schaeffer said he hopes playing in Vancouver will prepare him to be able to eventually play for Team Canada.
“That’s a big step, a big goal, but that’s what I’m hoping to do some day,” he said.