It has been a long time since the Trent Excalibur Men’s Varsity Rugby team hit the field at Justin Chiu Stadium to represent the Excalibur. Named one of six schools to receive a $2,000 grant from the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s Purdey Group Fund, student-athlete team president David Pickering and the rest of the team are ready to head into the 2021/22 season.
“The boys are hungry,” says David. “The team is really eager to get back out there and we’ve been really active in getting everyone to do workouts. We’re in fantastic shape, everyone is so motivated to go.”
The Purdey Group Fund was established in 2019 to help established and emerging university men’s rugby programs across Canada to boost the growth and development of their teams. A total of 19 universities applied for this year’s grants. Representing over half of the schools eligible for the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship this November in Kingston. The Trent Excalibur Men’s Varsity Rugby team was one of six teams to receive the $2,000 grant in the Emerging Program grant category.
With the grant, David believes the team can focus on the continued development of talent and final product on the field.
“Coach Tom McLeod has done a great job preparing us for games and bringing in good people so that grant is a testament to all the hard work being done over the last few years,” says David. “Over the last few years, we’ve brough in a lot of great players, like Kalin Sager and Ethan Giles, and this year we brought in guys like Caleb Hickey and Jem Logan. Those are some big names in the rugby community, and this is another piece of the puzzle to continue to bring recruits in.”
Building a sense of camaraderie
Tom McLeod, who is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Excalibur men’s team, believes that the positive start to the season will contribute to the sense of camaraderie between current players and the new recruits.
“A big value for us has always been family,” Tom explains. “The primary goal of our program is to offer the students a family while they are away from home. We had great support from the administration last year with regards to health and safety measures that allowed us to have on-field events to keep the group engaged.”
With the OUA announcing the rugby schedule for the upcoming 2021-22 season, the current team and incoming recruits are excited to continue where they left off. David, along with the rest of the leadership group are making sure that they use this year to leave it all on the field.
“We have some solid momentum heading into this season and with the excitement around the team, it’s about utilizing that,” said David, who will be returning for his fifth year of eligibility. “I think we feel like we have unfinished business. It’s a really positive atmosphere that we’re building on the team and we hope we can add to the success we had in our previous seasons.”