White Rock rugby player Adam Kleeberger will compete on the game’s largest stage next month, when he suits up for Canada at the Rugby World Cup.
The World Cup, to be played in New Zealand, begins in mid-September; Canada’s first game is Sept. 14 against Tonga.
“It’s exciting, and something we’ve been looking forward to, for sure,” Kleeberger said.
Kleeberger, a 27-year-old Semiahmoo Secondary grad, plays flanker with the national side and is no stranger to international competition.
He made his Team Canada debut in 2005, when he played for the national U21 team in France, and he’s also suited up for B.C.’s U19 squad, and played at the Commonwealth Games and the 2007 World Cup.
However, the feeling of wearing the national team’s colours never gets old, he said.
“It’s a different experience this time around, because I’m one of the older guys on the team, but the chance to represent your country is always a huge honour,” he said from Victoria, where he was preparing to leave with his team for Australia. Once Down Under, the squad will play a few exhibition games before the World Cup gets underway.
“This is the marquee event for our sport, so it’s always a special thing.”
Kleeberger, who has also played in the past with the Bayside Rugby Club, still keeps close ties with the community.
In fact, according to his father, Bruce, Kleeberger has pledged to bring home from the World Cup some type of memento he will then present to his old secondary school, where he played under the tutelage of Semi’s former rugby coach Paul Horne.
“Adam feels he owes a lot to his teachers, mentors and coaches at Semi,” Bruce said.
Peninsula rugby fans should have plenty of opportunity to watch Kleeberger in action when the World Cup kicks off – certain games throughout the tournament will be broadcast on TSN, which is a first for the event.
“We’re trying to raise the profile of the sport, and get more kids involved, so (being on TV) is great,” he said.
Canada will be in Pool A, along with France, Japan, Tonga and New Zealand.
The contest against the New Zealand All Blacks, slated for Oct. 2, will be featured on TSN.