Aussie rules ap­ply

Syd­ney’s Chris Bourque to play for Canada’s na­tional team against the U.S.

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

A six-month trip trav­el­ling, work­ing and liv­ing in Aus­tralia was the first ex­po­sure Chris Bourque re­ceived to the sport of Aus­tralian rules football.

The speed and skill of the game was enough to get his at­ten­tion. It wasn’t un­til a few years later — back in Canada — that the op­por­tu­nity arose to jump on the field and give it a try.

Bourque, a 32-year-old Syd­ney res­i­dent orig­i­nally from Yar­mouth, moved from Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, back to Nova Sco­tia in 2006.

Aussie ex-pat Jonah Scott started the Hal­i­fax Dock­ers club four years ago. Bourque gave the sport he only watched friends play in the land down un­der a try, and he was hooked.

“You have to have a full com­ple­ment of a team,” said Bourque, who grew up play­ing base­ball and hockey. “In bas­ket- ball and hockey, if you have the best player in the world, you can ride their coat­tails, but not in this.”

De­spite be­ing a rel­a­tive new­comer to the game, Bourque will have the op­por­tu­nity of a life­time next week­end. He’s been asked to join Canada’s na­tional Aussie rules football team, the North­wind, in a match against the U.S.A. Revo­lu­tion in the 49th Par­al­lel Cup in Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., Aug. 1.

Bourque and Scott got in con­tact with North­wind coach Cody Royle, who, af­ter see­ing game and train­ing footage of Bourque in ac­tion, in­vited him to join the ros­ter.

“I was pretty ex­cited,” said Bourque. “My goal is to make the na­tional team that goes to the in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment. My hope is to get se­lected for next year and be able to train and make the in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ment the fol­low­ing year.”

To the pass­ing spec­ta­tor, Aussie rules football can re­sem­ble rugby, but there are a num­ber of ma­jor dif­fer­ences. In­stead of throw­ing to pass, you hand­ball, which re­sem­bles a vol­ley­ball serve. You can also kick as well, and passes can be made in any di­rec­tion. Points are scored by kick­ing through tall and short goal posts.

“In this, there are po­si­tions for ev­ery body type. So guys that are 6-2, 6-3, 6-7, but also on the lower end of things,” said Bourque.

“I’m only 5-9. There are po­si­tions for big­ger, slower play­ers and then ones for my­self that are smaller, but can play a lit­tle quicker game.”

Bourque founded the Cape Bre­ton Aussie Rules Football Club shortly af­ter mov­ing to Syd­ney two years ago. The club cur­rently has 15 mem­bers and is open to ev­ery­one who wants to give it a try.

The club’s com­pet­i­tive team, the Syd­ney Giants, will play the Dock­ers on Satur­day at Open Hearth Park at 2 p.m. The Giants team is an af­fil­i­ate club with the Greater Western Syd­ney Giants that plays in the Aus­tralian Football League. The Aus­tralian pro club has pro­vided the lo­cal squad with a set of jer­seys and game balls in an ef­fort to grow the game in­ter­na­tion­ally.

Bourque said any­one in­ter­ested in join­ing the club can con­tact him through Face­book by search­ing for the Cape Bre­ton Aussie Rules Football Club page, or by email­ing cape­bre­t­onaussierules@gmail.com.

BY T.J. COLELLO SYD­NEY SUB­MIT­TED BY CHRIS BOURQUE

Chris Bourque of Syd­ney, mid­dle, com­petes for the Syd­ney Giants in a game against the Saint John Puffins in Aus­tralian rules football ac­tion. Bourque will play for Canada’s na­tional Aussie rules football team, the North­wind, against the U.S.A. Revo­lu­tion in the 49th Par­al­lel Cup in Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., Aug. 1.

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