Canadian Rugby fans will have to burn the midnight oil if they want to watch the Rugby World Cup live. The event which takes place every four years is being hosted in Japan. The first game kicks off Thursday at 12:45 a.m.
In spite of this, there will almost certainly be some local families staying up late as Victoria is tied with Calgary for the most representatives on the team with four.
Team captain, DTH van der Merwe calls Victoria home. He will be hard to miss as he is sporting bleach blonde hair for the tournament and happens to be Canada’s most electrifying player.
Originally van der Merwe hails from South Africa and moved to Victoria in 2005, at which point he joined the James Bay Athletic Association who play in the British Columbia Premier League. James Bay would go on to win three straight provincial championships and a national championship in 2007.
In an email to Black Press, van der Merwe said he hopes Canada’s role in the World Cup will go on to inspire other young Canadians to follow in his footsteps as well as those he’s playing in front of.
“It’s a humbling experience to see how excited everyone is for the World Cup and hopefully we can take that into our game. And on the opposite side, some of these young kids can look up to us and to this tournament and they can someday run out for Japan in a World Cup.”
This will be the fourth world cup van der Merwe has played in but that isn’t something he’s focusing on.
“It’s something special and hopefully I can give my bit on the field. I don’t want to take the personal accolades out of the game because it’s all for me about the team.”
The other Victorian players on the team include World Cup debutantes, Luke Cambell, and Will Percillier along with seasoned scrum-half Phil Mack.
Canada faces a tough group that includes New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, and Namibia. They can punch their ticket to the next World Cup in 2023 by finishing in the top three of their group, which will prove difficult as they come into the tournament ranked 22nd in the world meaning they are only higher than one other team in the group, Namibia (23rd).