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)

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

CloverdaleCoronavirusHigh school sportsHighSchoolRugbyLord Tweedsmuir Secondary

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

Just Posted

South Surrey’s Kevin McAlpin is hoping to reunite this 50-year-old wedding ring with its rightful owner. (Contributed photo)
Owner of 50-year-old wedding band found near Peace Arch Park sought

Recovered ring ‘is important to somebody,’ says finder

Surrey City Hall. (File photo)
Surrey council earmarks $1.8M in grants for community groups

Councillor Laurie Guerra says it’s ‘essential’ given damage done by pandemic

Screen shot from the SOS Children’s Village BC webpage for their “Big Hearts Open Doors” fundraising appeal. SOS is also currently running a Christmas gift-card drive to help at-risk youth this Christmas. (Image via sosbc.org)
SOS Children’s Village BC launches annual Christmas gift-card drive

SOS collecting gift cards and donations for Surrey’s at-risk youth

Surrey protesters wearing their blue “bubble” suits. (Submitted photo)
OUR VIEW: Shut down strange Surrey protest

Unfortunate neighbourhood under siege for 12 weeks and counting

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read