Three local rugby players, Zac Sanderson, Ethan DeRidder-Potts and Theo Ollewagon had the thrill of a lifetime when they got to play an exhibition game at B.C. place on Saturday in front of a capacity crowd. (Contributed Photo)

Trio of local rugby players get thrill of a lifetime in Vancouver

Three Red Deer rugby players lived out a dream they never expected possible on the weekend in B.C.

Zac Sanderson, Ethan DeRidder-Potts and Theo Ollewagon got the call to represent Alberta in an exhibition game against Team B.C., at B.C. Place in Vancouver on Saturday.

While the match was a ton of fun for the local teens, the fact they played in front of a nearly sold crowd of 50,000 people during the World Rugby Series, Canada Rugby Sevens event, was the icing on the cake.

“When I got out there, I ran through the tunnel, I had the biggest smile on my face. All the nerves were gone. I was so happy and I was just in my zone. Just enjoyed myself in the moment,” said Sanderson, who attends Hunting Hills High School.

The players arrived at the stadium early in the morning and got to watch most of the World Rugby Sevens event, with some of the best teams in the world like South Africa, France, New Zealand, Canada and Fiji competing throughout the day.

They finally hit the field for their game around 4 p.m and nerves were at an all-time high, especially listening to the crowd noise in the tunnel before they walked out.

“Once you’re on the field, you don’t really notice much,” joked DeRidder-Potts.

“Except you can’t hear anything that anyone is saying. When you walk through the tunnel, and you see all those people and the cameras going, it was crazy to see. Crazy to think there’s 50,000 people in here, no pressure… I’m really glad we did it, we all got that amazing experience.”

Not only did the boys get to play a 15-minute match in front of a huge crowd they also got to watch Canada top Fiji at the event, something that most of the players were thrilled to see.

“We got to see some high-class rugby, we got to see Canada beat Fiji and that’s insane. It was just a great day and we got to implement a couple of things that we saw into our game,” DeRidder-Potts added.

Sanderson also said that watching the top players in the world is something he won’t ever forget and he was also happy to do it with a couple of his Red Deer Titans Rugby Club teammates.

“Just the way they can pass the ball and the speed. No matter how big the guys are, they can be really big and they’re still running crazy fast, which is what I like about sevens. It’s mainly speed,” Sanderson said.

“It was probably one of the best days of my life, I’ve never experienced rugby like that.”

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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