Ilnicki brings international experience to Rookie Rugby camp in lakecity

Camp co-ordinator Braden McCallum said having ‘Mr. Team Canada’ show up for the final practice was a bonus

Children participating in the Rookie Rugby camp in Williams Lake got a surprise visit on their final day from Canadian rugby union prop, Alexis Creek’s own Jake Ilnicki.

Ilnicki said he just returned home from the Pacific Nation’s Cup with the Canadian team and was scrolling through Facebook and saw a post about the camp.

“I thought I’d come and show my face,” he joked as the camp got underway at the Marie Sharpe Elementary School field Monday. “I try to help out when I can.”

Next up, he flies to Toronto Saturday, Aug. 17 to prepare to play Leinster, Ireland in Hamilton, Ont. on Saturday, Aug. 24, and then the team will finish up another two weeks of their World Cup Camp.

“We are getting ready to play the U.S. in September in Vancouver and then we fly to Japan on Sept. 9,” Ilnicki added. “It’s going to be a busy month for me.”

Read more: Ilnicki, Canada earh berth at 2019’s Men’s Rugby World Cup

Williams Lake Rustlers head coach Braden McCallum co-ordinated the Rookie Rugby camp.

“It’s our third year running it and we’ve had a great turn out,” McCallum said. “We’ve had about 50 kids this year that registered.”

McCallum said members of the Rustlers team ran a series of drills with the children and then finished off the hour-long sessions with a flag game at the end.

“The kids absolutely love it, we get a great response from the parents, and to have Jake Ilnicki, Mr. Team Canada, to come on back in and help us out for our last day is an excellent surprise.”

Members from the Williams Lake Rustlers were out in full force during the final rookie rugby session to help out in a show of respect for Rustlers president Rodger Stewart, who recently died suddenly in Alaska where the team was playing in an ‘old boys’ rugby tournament.

Team member Roy Argue said Stewart had been helping run the rookie rugby camp since its inception and had never missed a session this summer.

Read more: Rustlers celebrate 40 years of Stampede Rugby

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Williams Lake Rustlers head coach Braden McCallum.

Williams Lake Rustlers Coach Braden McCullum gets ready to take attendance during the Rookie Rugby Camp’s final session at Marie Sharpe elementary school field Monday. The six-week camp was offered through the Cariboo Memorial Recreation services.

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