Aussie rules apply
Sydney’s Chris Bourque to play for Canada’s national team against the U.S.
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 email@example.com.
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.