Cloverdale’s Chris Atkinson played with the Toronto Arrows earlier this year for about six weeks before being sent home to rehab after an injury.
The professional club is the only Canadian team in North America’s Major League Rugby competition.
“Chris is a tough young prop who gives us depth and potential to develop in the front row, and is ramping up fast in camp,” Arrows’ CEO Mark Winokur said in a press release earlier this year.
Atkinson played both football and rugby for the Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers while he attended high school in Cloverdale. He then went on to play for the Surrey Beavers before moving over to Burnaby Lake so he could compete in the B.C. premier league.
“Atkinson, 23, recently entered his first year as part of the Pacific Pride program,” the release noted. “At 5’10” and 265 lbs, the Surrey, British Columbia native will shore up the squad’s depth across the front row.”
Brock Smith, communications manager for the Toronto Arrows, said the Arrows are still very high on Atkinson, despite the fact he only spent about a month-and-a-half with the club.
“Chris made the substitutes bench for one game, but he didn’t feature in the match,” Smith said. “He did enough to really impress the coaches. It’s safe to say Chris, just like being on the Canada development team radar, is very much on our radar going forward.”
Smith said a bunch of the Arrows’ coaching staff participated in a high-performance Rugby Canada camp in November, 2020, in Langford.
“The coaches were impressed with a number of players at that three-week camp and Chris was one of those guys,” noted Smith. “We knew it was going to be a long season and we knew we’d need a deep roster of players.”
Smith explained that the Arrow’s have a strong mandate to sign and development Canadian players.
“We want to help Canadians get a chance to play in a professional environment and in an elite competition.”
He said they strive to have a roster that is filled with 80 per cent Canadian players.
“Chris is an exciting young prospect,” added Smith. “He grew leaps and bounds over the six-to-seven weeks he was with us. He’s a very versatile player and can play both prop and hooker.”
The Arrows are 4-6 after 10 games, losing five of those matches by nine points or less. The squad has six games left in the season and all games can be viewed on tsn.ca, or through the TSN app on a tablet, TV, or phone.
The Arrows’ next game is Sunday, June 6 at 9 a.m. versus the San Diego Legion, also 4-6. The Arrows are only two-points adrift of the final playoff spot in the eastern conference, so the match with San Diego has playoff implications.
The Arrows remaining games are: June 6 vs. San Diego (4-6); June 12 @ 5 p.m. vs. the league-leading Austin Gilgronis (8-2); June 19 @ 1:30 p.m. vs. the New Orleans Gold (5-3-1); June 27 @ 9 a.m. vs. Rugby United New York (7-3); July 4 @ 3 p.m. vs. Old Glory DC (4-5-1); and July 11 @ 9 a.m. vs. the New England Free Jacks (5-5).
For more info visit torontoarrows.com.