YORKTON - When you grow up in Saskatchewan rugby is not the first sport you might be expected to excel in.
But, that is what happened for Lucas Scheck of Cactus Lake, in the Macklin area of the province.
Scheck, 19, is among the top 7s rugby players in the country, which at present means he will be playing some high level games this summer, although he’s not quite sure with which team.
Scheck might be headed to Birmingham, England as part of Canada’s men’s team attending the Commonwealth Games, or he might be a member of the Headliners one of the squads in Premier 7s Rugby which is set to launch its second season in the latter half of July.
Scheck was a Headliner in 2021 with Premier 7s launched with a single tourney style event – typical of 7s play such as the World Rugby Men’s Sevens Series.
Moose Jaw’s Delaney Aikens was on the Loonies who won the women’s wide in 2021.
This year the league hits three cities; San Jose, Washington and Austin.
Scheck said the Premier 7s experience in 2021, while “COVID was always in the back of the mind” went well.
That said, Scheck said the sport is really just emerging here.
“In North America rugby is still not very popular,” he said, adding it is getting better.
Premier 7s is part of that, so too is the fact the sport is now part of the Summer Olympics.
“The Olympics are the biggest event to go to as an athlete,” said Scheck.
The appeal of 7s, said Scheck is its short, intense play.
“It’s electric. It’s 14 minutes (of action). It’s not like baseball where you can go get a hotdog and a beer and come back 30-minutes later and you haven’t missed anything,” he said, adding in 30 minutes two games of 7s have basically been played.
So as July arrived Scheck was simply training hard and awaiting which team he might be with the rest of the summer.
Obviously being with Team Canada would be huge, but Premier 7s is a solid option too, said Scheck adding there is too much overlap with scheduling to do both.
But, back to how Scheck found rugby?
“Rugby’s not big in Canada or Saskatchewan,” he said.
However, Scheck would head to Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Grade 9.
“Notre Dame opened so many doors for me,” he said. “It was completely different from what I would have gotten at home.”
One of the differences was a more diverse sports program which included rugby, a sport three older sisters had played, so he took it up too.
While Scheck said he played a variety of sport; hockey, football, baseball, he seemed to fit rugby well.
“I was pretty good at it, and I usually stick with anything I’m good at,” he said.
It helped that Scheck sort of came under the wing of coach Rob MacDowell.
“He’s basically the guy for me . . . He built me up, sculpted me,” said Scheck, adding MacDowell played for Canada in the past.
It was his coach that got Scheck involved with the provincial program.
“I did alright for myself,” said Scheck.
And, with some help from his coach Scheck was soon on a national team trajectory.
Certainly Scheck hopes he can earn a Team Canada spot moving forward.
“It’s getting paid to play the game you love and travel the world for fun. What more could you ask for?” he said.