Imagine constantly beautiful scenery, hikes through the mountains, and the best weather you could dream of all year-round in Canada… then trading all of that to move to Regina, Saskatchewan. For Will Piche, the chance to play for the University of Regina Men’s Rugby 7s program and train with head coach Robin MacDowell is completely worth it.
Will is from the town of Duncan, BC, located on Vancouver Island. Originally a football player of 12 years, Will started playing rugby 3 years ago for Cowichan Secondary School. After an injury, Will initially returned to football, but decided that he ultimately wanted to pursue rugby. Now in his last year of high school, Will is planning toward his future rugby career, starting with a move to the Prairies to continue his education at the University of Regina.
For Will, his main motivation for moving to Regina is to one day play for Canada; to do that, he believes training with Robin MacDowell is the first step. Will’s coach in high school is Ron Glass, formerly a prominent British Columbia provincial coach and currently a teacher at Cowichan Secondary. Glass had coached Robin MacDowell back in Robin’s time as a player in the Cowichan Valley, which is how Will was introduced to Robin. Robin MacDowell is a former international rugby player, and has spent years coaching and developing athletes from across Canada, as well as in different parts of the world.
Six years ago, Robin set in motion the beginning of the Men’s Rugby 7s team at the University of Regina, which would eventually lead into the creation of the Women’s team the following year. For Alison Fisher, head of Varsity Club Athletics at the university, says that the demand for new club sports has to come from the students. That demand was high in the Regina rugby community and with the students at the university who wanted to be a part of a rugby program. Fisher says the passion and engagement on the students’ part is crucial in aligning with the University of Regina’s strategic planning goal: To develop leadership through experiential learning for students.
As an active and essential part of both the Men’s and Women’s programs, Fisher remarked how the
rugby programs and the overall rugby culture at the University of Regina has helped many student-athletes grow not only as rugby players, but as individuals. She believes that all comes down to the values that are exuded by the players and the coaches alike: Everyone on the team feels like they are valued and are a part of a family. With a strong support structure and a tight-knit culture, players find a home away from home on the University of Regina rugby teams. For a player like Will Piche who is coming a long way from home, this culture is integral for the student-athlete experience.
Will sees value in training under Robin and learning from veterans on the team. In the short-term, Will wants to learn the game better and refine his skills; in the long-term, his goal is to play for the Canadian national team. Will looks up to his coach, Glass, as well as both former and current Canada players, including MacDowell and current rugby 7s star Patrick Kay, who is also originally from Cowichan. Will says his mother is one of his biggest motivators, and has always pushed him to be the best that he can be. There is no doubt that Will will find that same type of motivation and drive with the University of Regina team.