The Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers (in green) gather with members of the Pontypool United Rugby Football Club under the posts after their game in Pontypool, Wales, March 13. Tweedy lost the game, their first and only match on tour, but gained some valuable game experience and made some invaluable memories. (Photo: Jamie Overgaard)

Cloverdale rugby team returns home from U.K. after tour was cut short by COVID-19 crisis

Lord Tweedsmuir ruggers back home in Surrey, begin two weeks of self-isolation

Despite being ten thousand kilometres from home — amid a global health emergency — the Lord Tweedsmuir rugby team took the uncertainty that surrounded them in stride.

“It was business as usual for us,” said Tweedy head coach Jamie Overgaard after returning home from a shortened rugby tour to the U.K. “All our guys were being hosted by Welsh families, and we were all aware of what was going on, but everyone was really calm about everything.”

Overgaard said most of what was happening was beyond their control. So the team was staying the course as best as they could.

“We were monitoring the situation and getting timely updates from our host coaches,” Overgaard noted. “They were really on top of the situation and were going out of their way to make sure we had the latest info.”

He said the team was having a great visit and their host families were taking care of them.

And while Overgaard and his assistants, Ben Walker and Tim Oswin, were aware of the increasing uncertainty at home and in Europe, they balanced the need to keep the kids up to speed on what was relevant with the need to try to insulate them from some of the stress the situation had caused.

“I think they showed a lot of strength and understanding throughout the trip,” added Overgaard, “even when they were told we were cancelling the rest of the trip and heading home.”

SEE ALSO: South Surrey rugby team tries to get home from U.K. amid COVID-19 ‘chaos’

SEE ALSO: B.C. School Sports suspends spring season

Overgaard said the school’s rugby tour was progressing fairly smoothly before the COVID-19 situation escalated and the tour unravelled before their eyes.

Tweedy was supposed to play four games and compete in the Rosslyn Park National Schools 7s Tournament. The Rosslyn Park 7s is the world’s largest school rugby tournament, attracting just under 10,000 athletes from nearly 1,000 schools.

But the team only got to play one game. They played their first match against Pontypool United RFC and then headed to Cardiff to take in a Six Nations game at Millennium Stadium.

It wasn’t until the Six Nations game between Wales and Scotland was cancelled that the crisis started to sink in for the coaches and players. The team had tickets for the March 14 game, but were left wondering when it was called off.

Overgaard said he heard from the superintendent’s office the next morning on March 15.

“We got a call saying, ‘The superintendent wants you home. We have to get you on the first flight home.’ And they took care of all the details.”

The team was then booked on flights home for the morning of March 16.

When they got to London, the airport was “pretty relaxed,” noted Overgaard. “I thought it was going to be total chaos, but it really wasn’t.”

The team arrived in Vancouver in the early hours of March 17, after flying via San Francisco.

He said getting on the flight to San Fran was equal parts relief and anxiety for everyone on the team. They were all eager to get home, but also anxious about what the flight would hold, what the connection in San Francisco would look like, and what it would be like going through screening stations in both the U.S. and at YVR.

SEE ALSO: Hockey dynasty at Lord Tweedsmuir, winners of Surrey school league cup once more

SEE ALSO: Rugby lights up the night at Surrey’s Sullivan Heights Park for the first time

“The boys were a little bit worried, but at the same time, they had each other,” he said. “The adversity of this brought the kids closer together and they were definitely relieved to be going through it all with their buddies.”

Overgaard said he was pretty anxious to be moving through a U.S. airport.

“I saw the reports on TV about huge lineups in U.S. airports with the CDC checking passengers,” he said. “I thought we were going to miss our Vancouver flight — I was expecting that — but it was really quite orderly.”

When Overgaard’s plane landed in San Francisco, everyone on board was told to remain in their seats.

“They took people off the plane 10 at a time.”

He said they conducted personal interviews with each person on the plane and then each person had to fill out a form.

“We had to carry that form with us until we cleared customs. At customs they asked the same questions again.”

He added they were also stopped multiple times in the airport and had to produce their forms for an inspection.

Now that the team is back home, everyone has started two weeks of self-isolation.

For Overgaard, that means moving into his garage.

“(My wife) made me a room in the garage that I get to live in,” he said. “I have a bed down here. My son put the Xbox and a bunch of games in here.”

He can’t have physical contact with anyone and must have a separate bathroom and bed.

“(My wife’s) a little worried for the kids, but she’s also worried for her mother.”

Overgaard believes the boys on the team have grown through the ordeal.

“The coaches — myself, Tim Oswin, and Ben Walker — are super happy with how the boys conducted themselves through all of this,” he said. “We’re really proud of them. They were really calm. They showed a lot of strength. They definitely bonded as a group. It was really quite easy, once the time came to leave, to get on with it and make the best of a bad situation.”

But all was not lost on the shortened tour, he added.

“Even now, the kids are saying, ‘We went pretty far to play one game, but it was worth it.’”



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

CoronavirusHighSchoolRugbyLord Tweedsmuir Secondary

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows school district assessing student needs for virtual education

Teaching special needs students in virtual classroom “complex”

Off-leash dog parks remain open in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Teams of monitors will be making sure people are physical distancing

Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games organizers disappointed but proud

Should be extra-prepared for the 2024 Summer Games once it comes

About 1,300 BC Hydro customers without power in Maple Ridge

A tree has fallen across electrical wires

WEATHER: Environment Canada forecasts snow for Ridge Meadows

Wednesday will see mostly sun and cloud

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read