The Wolf­pack’s teen phe­nom on what ev­ery child needs to know to make it in rugby

Toronto Wolf­pack’s youngest pup Quinn Ngawati on why he chose rugby over hockey

The Kids Post - - Contents - By Jo-Anne Craine

It’s been a crazy sum­mer for newly minted pro­fes­sional rugby player Quinn Ngawati. He just grad­u­ated high school, turned 18, and flew across the ocean to com­pete for — and sub­se­quently snag — a cov­eted spot on the Toronto Wolf­pack’s League One rugby team. The club is Canada’s first pro­fes­sional rugby team and the lat­est to join the English Rugby Foot­ball League (RFL).

While play­ing for the Un­der 17 Cana­dian rugby team, a coach men­tioned the up­com­ing Wolf­pack try­outs to Ngawati.

“We thought that I might as well just go and give it a shot, maybe get my name on the radar of a pro­fes­sional side,” he says, hop­ing that at least he’d get some point­ers to im­prove his game.

“I never re­ally thought [an of­fer to play] pro­fes­sional would come this soon.”

Ngawati took part in the Wolf­pack try­outs in Van­cou­ver be­fore 18 hope­fuls got in­vi­ta­tions to a week-long camp in Eng­land. Out of the con­tenders, only three made the team. Ngawati was the only Cana­dian. His team­mates have al­ready nick­named him “The Quin­na­dian.”

Ngawati’s fa­ther is from New Zealand where he played rugby and where the wildly pop­u­lar sport pre­vails. Even as a young boy grow­ing up in Vic­to­ria, B.C., Ngawati was drawn to the sport more than the typ­i­cal Cana­dian sport­ing staples.

“Ev­ery Cana­dian kid goes through that pe­riod of en­joy­ing hockey or en­joy­ing foot­ball but it’s [rugby] kind of in my blood,” says Ngawati. “It comes pretty easy to me.” He went to schools in New Zealand and B.C., com­pet­ing in row­ing, bas­ket­ball, rugby and swim­ming at St. Michael’s Univer­sity School in Vic­to­ria.

As the youngest mem­ber of the Wolf­pack team by sev­eral years, Ngawati is hum­ble enough to know there’s a long road ahead to de­velop his skills. But he has the drive.

“I was able to come into the en­vi­ron­ment and prove to the coaches that I was ready to play this year for those games that they needed me to,” he ex­plains.

“But ob­vi­ously I still have a lot of work to do.”

The Wolf­pack are in Toronto for sev­eral weeks play­ing matches against teams who cross the At­lantic Ocean to com­pete.

The team’s home turf is Lam­port Sta­dium on King Street West, and the team re­sides at Ge­orge Brown Col­lege, where they also en­joy daily meals pre­pared by a chef, said Ngawati.

A fast-paced, seven-per­son ver­sion of rugby was in­tro­duced into the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last year, and Ngawati thinks that will help bring aware­ness to the sport in gen­eral in North Amer­ica

He says it’s a good op­tion for kids to play, too.

With proper train­ing to avoid in­juries, he thinks more Cana­dian kids would en­joy the sport if they tried it.

When asked what he liked best about rugby, Ngawati hints at the tra­di­tion and his­tory that has al­lowed the sport to thrive for more than a cen­tury.

“For me it’s the rugby cul­ture,” he says.

“All across the globe rugby’s rec­og­nized and the way that peo­ple act, I think it gives good struc­ture for kids grow­ing up. It ob­vi­ously gives you an ac­tive and healthy life­style.”

You can pur­chase tick­ets to watch Ngawati and the Wolf­pack take a bite out of the com­pe­ti­tion at Toron­toWolf­pack.com.

Rookie player Quinn Ngawati is one to watch on the pitch

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