Coast to Coast Series - Jack McCarthy St. John's, NL
from Canada U20 communications
This is the second article in the Coast to Coast series featuring players at the men's U20 camp at Shawnigan Lake. The camp is part of the preparation for the trip to Romania to take part in the Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament starting on August 28th. The tournament includes eight teams, Canada are in a pool with Fiji, Uruguay and Portugal. The tournament winner will be promoted to the 2019 Junior World Championships.
Jack McCarthy - St. John's, NL
Jack admitted he didn't know much about the game when he first stepped foot on a rugby field with his high school team in Grade 12, "I was a pretty social guy, trying to play as many high school sports as possible, and I had a few buddies who played rugby, they were just looking for numbers honestly and asked me to come out." He played out the high school season and that could have been his short rugby career but his raw talent and speed didn't go unnoticed. His uncle, Mark McCarthy, got him playing 7s, the Olympic version of the sport. He represented Newfoundland at the National U18 7s in Burnaby, BC. He's the first to admit the learning curve was steep, "I was definitely very raw to the game, a little shaky on skills, I was trying to be the fast guy, that was all I could really do at the time."
He tried his hand at many sports while growing up but hockey and golf were his favourites, "I grew up on a golf course so golf and hockey were two big parts of my life, I played Junior B hockey in my home town". He spent his first year after high school at Memorial University where he played hockey. It wasn't until he transferred to St Francis Xavier (StFX) in Nova Scotia for his second year that he started taking rugby seriously. "I decided to move away from home, they [StFX] had a big rugby club, pretty good cameraderie, I was looking for a way to make friends while I was away at school, so that's kind of where rugby took off. They have a pretty good club, they have 60 guys who play, they practice 4 days a week, that's where I started taking it [rugby] seriously."
It's easy to see that Jack has an honest evaluation of his strengths and weaknesses and the structures he needs to succeed. "I've always been a pretty athletic person but a pretty lazy guy and I wanted to dedicate myself to something and rugby is one of those sports, fortunately, where you can focus in late I found out. You can have success even though you're not born into it or start at a young age, if you really want to put the work in late, you can have some success."
He made the decision to move to BC to accelerate his rugby learning. "I made the decision to move to the University of Victoria, so I had my first year out in BC last year, I loved it, I love the west coast, it's amazing. It was the best place for my skills, Doug Tate was an exceptional coach, he brought me in last minute, I had a great year, it was a lot of fun playing there. It was the best environment to improve in a short amount of time."
We're always interested to hear what the player's families back home think about their new rugby careers. "They're always very supportive of all the sports I play, they don't know much about it [rugby]. All my family are coming, hopefully, if I make the team, to Bucharest but they're doing their vacation anyway. I have a bunch of family planning on coming to watch, a lot of them don't really know the rules. We're a really big sports family, whenever anyone has any amount of success in sports they're really supportive. They're watching YouTube videos and watching rugby, they're trying to learn the rules as quickly as possible."
What does the future hold in terms of rugby and education? "That's a good question, I'm three years into university now so I'm going to get my degree, but rugby, in my mind, hopefully, is going to be a part of my future. I see they're [Rugby Canada] trying to do an expansion where they do the XVs and 7s programs together, add more cards and focus on youth in the future. I'd love to be able to play on the national team whether that's 7s or XVs, it's a big goal for me to be in a position to compete for a spot. You see the MLR, a pro league, which is exciting, there's definitely a whole lot of possible options. I'd love rugby to be a part of my immediate future for sure but it's going to take a lot of hard work to play at that level. It's something I'm up to the challenge for."
And outside of rugby what are the goals? "I'm an economics major, so I'm doing economics with a minor in finance and I'm hoping to do grad school, maybe do a masters in economics or an MBA, I'm kind of undecided about that a little bit."
The future looks bright for these young men but also for rugby with the talent coming through the U20 program.
You can follow Jack and his teammates on their trip to Romania through the Rugby Canada website.
Next in the series we'll talk to James O'Neill from Cochrane, Alberta and find out about his rugby journey and how it led to the Canada U20 camp.
First in the series was Michael Smith from Vancouver, BC