It’s likely too, at least for most, if you were making a list of sport in the province that rugby would be rather far down a list, myself being an exception as I love the sport.
But even within the realm of rugby there are various disciplines 15s and 7s being best-known here I would suggest, and 13s far less known.
So it was with some definite interest I happened upon Chris Hrynkow of Saskatoon who was recently named to the Canada Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are a very new entity in terms of rugby, only recently created by the Canada Rugby League (CRL) as the national master’s rugby league team for our country.
The Grizzlies will be looking to play in tournaments and games across the globe as well as participating in the upcoming masters World Cup festival in the United Kingdom later this year.
Hrynkow said he has played 15s union rugby for years, having started in high school in Winnipeg in 1991, adding he still plays today.
Then when in Ontario Hrynkow took in a Toronto Wolfpack when the team existed, and from there got involved playing the 13 league version.
“I was in Toronto for flag rugby and I got to know the guys,” he said.
At 44, Hrynkow still loves the game, adding “I still feel OK after a game, but it is taking longer to recover.”
From there he was invited to get involved with the new national team as it looked to encompass players from across the country, not just Ontario where the sport version is most played.
So Hrynkow will head to the UK in November to play with the Grizzlies in a Masters event that is more about promoting the sport, sportsmanship and fun, than about winning games.
In fact, Hrynkow said they are suggesting scores won’t even be kept, although he added players in any sport are competitive by nature so they’ll be aware of who has scored the most tries in a game.
The event, while friendly in nature for the Masters side of things, will still feature the heavyweight nations for 13s; New Zealand, Australia, England, Wales, and France.
Given the level of other nations in the discipline Hrynkow said maybe having no ‘official record’ of the scores isn’t a bad thing.
“There will be no record of us getting trounced,” he joked.
While the competition will be tough, Hrynkow said the Grizzlies plan to play a series of three warm-up games in England before the actual event, something other teams don’t appear to have planned, and those actual games just might give Canada a bit of an edge.
The Masters division will also work on a slightly different set of rules, changes to prevent the young players in the division from dominating. Players will be colour-coded within a team, explained Hrynkow. Some players you can hit, some you need to pull a flag from instead of tackling, and the oldest it is a simple touch to stop play.
Still, Hrynkow expects play to be pretty intense, adding his earliest coach in rugby told him “never, ever let up. It’s disrespectful to the other team ... Always give what you can give (to the game).”
As for the opportunity, adjusted rules and no official scoring notwithstanding, Hrynkow said he’s looking forward to it.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he said, adding he hasn’t played a game in England since 2001, and this time around he will be representing his country. “It’s really nice to be playing for Canada. Any time you put on the (Canadian) jersey it’s always an honour.”