Athlete heading to New Zealand
Kal Sager competing inWorld U18 School Sevens Tournament
Kal Sager played his first rugby sevens game two months ago and on Friday will board a plane to New Zealand with Canada’s U18 sevens team.
Sager, 17, and his Thomas A. Stewart Griffins’ rugby teammate Braden Bruce were among 12 players named to Canada’s roster for the 2018 World U18 School Sevens Tournament in Auckland, New Zealand Dec. 14-15. Canada will face teams from rugby nations like New Zealand, Tonga, Australia and Fiji.
Bruce invited Sager to join him on a U18 fall tournament team called the Misfits, based out of Markham, which played in tournaments in Brantford, Markham, Ottawa and New York City. They not only won all four events it led to an opportunity Sager never anticipated when national team coaches approached him in Brantford to let him know they were scouting him. A month later he got an email informing him he’d been selected to Team Canada.
“It was mind-blowing because I’ve only played sevens for really two months,” said Sager. “It was really shocking that it happened that quickly and that I’ll be playing on such a big stage. I was quite honoured to represent our country.”
Sager had never tried out for a provincial or national team. His rugby experience was limited to playing for the Peterborough Pagans and his high school.
“I was always content playing with my close friends in club and then these opportunities arose. It’s amazing,” he said.
Sager lives in Bobcaygeon but his father Eric is an environmental science professor at Trent University so he’s driven into Peterborough with him to attend TASSS.
His mother Sheena is a researcher specializing in electromagnetic fields.
Neither has any rugby experience but they do have athletic backgrounds.
His father played collegiate basketball at Lawrence University in Wisconsin and his mother played varsity volleyball at the University of Toronto.
Sager also quarterbacked the senior football team at his high school.
Sager said he is excited for the opportunity to travel to New Zealand.
“I’ve always dreamed of going to New Zealand actually. My family has travelled to lots of other places but it’s one place I’ve never been,” he said. “Playing for Team Canada is one thing and travelling all the way to New Zealand to do it is absolutely incredible.
“I’m thrilled to go over there and play. It’s so different. It’s on the complete opposite side of the world. It’s a different culture. It will be nothing like I have ever experienced. I’ve always been a fan of new experiences.”
The tournament is an opportunity for Canadian players to gain experience against high-calibre competition.
“It’s a crucial point of development for young athletes in international competition,” he said.
Bruce started playing for Canada last spring competing in a Youth Olympic Games qualifying tournament. Sager said he wouldn’t have this opportunity if Bruce didn’t recommend him for the Misfits.
“Braden and I hand out a lot. He’s a great, great friend who I have known for a real long time. It’s going to make it more fun to be able to share these experiences with each other for, hopefully, a long time to come,” said Sager.
It’s got Sager thinking about what other opportunities rugby might offer in the future.
“I’ve always loved sports of all kinds. To be able to broaden my experience and to be able to play for Canada does make you think about what else can come down the road.
“I also want to be in the moment and take in this tour and see where that goes,” he said.
Thomas A. Stewart's Kal Sager collides with a Bayside player during COSSA AAA boys' rugby on May 30.