Though they’ve talked with their coach, and with teammates who’ve travelled to play overseas, but still, both Calixto Martinez and Nick Wright admit they don’t quite know what to expect when they head there themselves.
The duo, teammates at Bayside Rugby and at Earl Marriott Secondary, where they’re heading into Grade 10, leave next week for Wimbledon College in England, where they’ll spend two months going to school and playing rugby with the school team.
While in England, they’ll live with various host families.
“I’m excited about it, definitely, but I’ve got a few jitters, too,” said Wright, who plays on the backrow.
“But everyone who has gone has said it’s been a really positive experience.
“It’s really special opportunity for us.”
“When the chance came, I instantly said ‘yes,’” added Martinez, who plays prop.
The rugby exchange was facilitated by EMS rugby coach Adam Roberts, who each year for the last five has sent a few players to Europe for the fall school term.
“It’ll be a big eye-opener for them, for sure, to be in that kind of rugby culture,” said Roberts, who took part in a similar exchange himself, when he attended Semiahmoo Secondary.
The boys are not completely unfamiliar with Wimbledon College’s rugby program. Last far, the English side came to the Peninsula on an exhibition tour, and Wright said he has been in contact with a few of his future teammates on Facebook already.
The trip will also be made easier, Martinez said, because they are heading there together – even though they’ll stay with different host families.
“Because we’re going together, I think it’ll be easier to adjust. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The play on the field is expected to be fierce, and both teens know they’re in for some intense action on the pitch.
“We know that the competition is going to be really tough, so hopefully I’m able to come back with a bit of (rugby) knowledge, and some more skills,” Wright said.
In addition to on-field activities, they’re also looking forward to soaking up some local culture. In fact, Wright is headed overseas a few days early in order to tour the area and do some sightseeing.
The Rugby World Cup will also be staged while the pair are in the U.K., and though the event is not going to be played on English soil – it’s slated for New Zealand – it will likely turn the boys’ temporary home even more rugby-mad.
“It’ll be pretty cool to be able to watch some England games with their crazy fans,” said Wright.
Preparing for the long trip makes for a busy month for the pair, especially Martinez, who leaves this week for Calgary, where he’s set to play for Team BC’s U16 side at rugby nationals.
“When I get back from Calgary, I’m only home for a day before I have to leave again,” he said.
Martinez and Wright will return to the Peninsula in mid-October, and though they’ll keep pace with their EMS curriculum as much as they can – in addition to tackling their Wimbledon course load – Wright knows he’ll have to play a little catchup the rest of the school year.
“It’ll be a tough semester when I get back, but it’ll be worth it,” he said.