Bracebridge’s Ethan Jurgeneit continues his quest to become a professional rugby player.
He is preparing to travel to Guelph to play a series of exhibition matches. On August 13, he and his Under-21 teammates from Team Canada will play Zimbabwe on August 18, Chile on August 18 and Uraguay on August 23. All matches will be played at the University of Guelph.
“There will probably be a lot of coaches there,” says Jurgeneit, adding that some may be from Major League Rugby (MLR), a recently formed professional North American rugby league. “I want to make a good impression.”
MLR is based in Dallas, Texas with 12 American teams and one Canadian team in Toronto. Jurgeneit explains that he hopes to get promoted to the league to further his thriving career. His goal is to gain enough experience and skills to play in his “second home” New Zealand, but he is also open to the possibility of playing anywhere in Europe or Japan.
As for the team, Jurgeneit says this is an opportunity for the Canadians to boost their standing ahead of a possible return of the U20 Rugby World Cup. The tournament was canceled in 2020, 21 and 22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has not yet been decided whether the 2023 tournament, which traditionally takes place at the beginning of summer, will be omitted. Canada is currently playing in the second tier of the tournament, finishing fifth when it was last held in 2019.
“We want to present ourselves as players and see what the up-and-coming U21 team looks like this year,” says Jurgeneit about the upcoming games.
Jurgeneit started playing rugby when he was six and living with his family in Hawaii. A few years later he moved to New Zealand and continued his education. “New Zealand was the best in the world back then [for rugby],” he says. Jurgeneit moved to Muskoka with his family when he was 12. The next year he began playing in the province for rugby Ontario. He also played for Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School during his ninth and tenth years before the program was dropped when he was in eleventh grade because they couldn’t find a coach.
It’s not the first time Jurgeneit has played internationally. He was previously part of the Canada U18 team and has competed in several tournaments under the Canadian banner since joining Muskoka a decade ago.
Despite his burgeoning rugby career, Jurgeneit is as focused on his school work as he is on training. He is currently studying at Trinity Western University and would like to complete this program before taking the next step in his athletic career. “There has to be something other than just rugby,” he says.