Local rugby players named to new CAF team

Rugby players from the base, Petty Officer First Class Jay Jimmo, Petty Officer Second Class Marc-Andre Bibeau, and Leading Seaman Lionel Achari recently participated in a match against the British Royal Air Force. Photo by LS Derek Rowland

Rugby players from the base, Petty Officer First Class Jay Jimmo, Petty Officer Second Class Marc-Andre Bibeau, and Leading Seaman Lionel Achari recently participated in a match against the British Royal Air Force. Photo by LS Derek Rowland

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Three sailors from Esquimalt have been chosen as starters to represent the new Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) rugby team in international competition.

Petty Officer First Class Jay Jimmo of the Naval Personnel Training Group (NPTG), Petty Officer Second Class Marc-Andre Bibeau, Fleet Diving Unit (Pacific) and Leading Seaman Lionel Achari, HMCS Regina have been named to the fledgling rugby program’s permanent roster after their strong performances during an international match against the British Royal Air Force, last month at CFB Edmonton. The match served as a selection camp ahead of next year’s biennial International Rugby Defence Championships (IRDC) in Japan, which Canada hopes to participate in in the future.

“I was completely honoured to be selected for the Canadian Forces national team, not just for myself but also for Maritime Forces Pacific and my home rugby team the West Shore Velox,” said PO1 Jimmo, starting Tighthead Prop of the CAF team. “It’s a chance for all of the players to make an impact on developing the game for Canada’s military.”

Rugby is taking its first on the road to becoming a CAF-sanctioned sport. Invitations to the quadrennial tournament have yet to be sent out but PO1 Jimmo says he and his teammates are hopeful that they will be in Japan when play kicks off in Oct. 2019.

The CAF side’s inexperience as a team showed on the pitch in Edmonton as the British airmen easily dispatched their challengers with a lopsided 100-10 win. Over 30 players took part in the international match and they were competing for 23 spots and 15 starting positions on the national squad’s roster.

PO1 Jimmo scored his team’s only try in the loss while he also earned his first international cap for Canada. He said he and his teammates knew they were in for a tough battle against their skillful opponents well in advance of the opening kickoff.

“There is little shame in losing to a team that is essentially a professional level team, that were named 2018 British Forces rugby champions,” said PO1 Jimmo. “Getting this kind of experience will only make us better.”

He says the match was a dress rehearsal and eye-opener for some of the competition they will face at the IRDC tournament being held concurrently with the 2019 International Rugby Board World Cup. PO2 Bibeau, a winger and LS Achari who will play the starting Number 8 have also been invited to join the team for next year’s preparatory training camps as they build towards the worlds.

PO1 Jimmo, 44, works as a project coordinator at NPTG but prior to his current job sailed aboard Canadian warships for over 17 years, working as a Naval Combat Information Operator. He grew up in Saint John, N.B., playing rugby in high school and the senior men’s team before joining the military. Now he says rugby takes up most of his spare time while he’s not at work.

That’s because PO1 Jimmo not only plays for the West Shore Velox Valhallians men’s team and Vancouver Island’s Crimson Tide provincial rep team but also acts as the Director of Membership and Registration on the board of directors, as well as the Velox webmaster, providing news and updates concerning all the club’s adult and youth programs.

A former martial arts expert who represented Canada’s national karate team at past world championship competitions, PO1 Jimmo is also the brother of late Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC) star Ryan Jimmo.

“I use martial arts in my play all the time and I have learned a lot from it on how to stay healthy stay mobile on the field and having the flexibility, strength and reaction time to not get injured,” said PO1 Jimmo. “It has made me tough enough to take the hit.”

One of his club’s coaches, ex-professional Mike Shelley says that despite PO1 Jimmo’s age, his quickness combined with his 300 lbs frame still make him a force to be reckoned with in any scrum. Shelley, also a Rugby Canada coach, played for the English Rugby Union professional side Leeds Tykes over 200 times. 

“Jay has been an active participant with us [Velox] for over two decades and has a huge passion for the game,” said Shelley. “At 45-years-old he’s still turning out whenever needed and is a great example of what looking after your health and never giving up can get you.”

Playing its matches at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre in Colwood, Velox boasts an experienced coaching staff and offers men’s women’s and youth programs. PO1 Jimmo and Shelley say the club is always looking to take on new players no matter what their abilities or level of experience. He encourages any CAF members or their family members interested in playing rugby to get involved with the Velox.

For more information about the club and their teams visit their website:  http://www.westshorerfc.com/

Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author:

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.