ISN had the opportunity to speak with John Moonlight, Captain of Rugby Canada’s 7’s team to discuss the work dispute and subsequent resolution that ended Wednesday night with an amicable agreement.
Although Moonlight can’t discuss the inner workings or the details of the agreement, you will read that the two parties have resolved their issues and are ready to move forward to try and become an elite international team who represents the men’s 7’s program in Canada and abroad.
The following is a list of questions that Moonlight has agreed to openly discuss:
ISN – John, some people are reporting that Rugby Canada’s 7’s team went on strike – how accurate is this statement?
Moonlight – I’m not sure if it was a strike or a work stoppage, all i can say is that something had to be done to bring attention to our plight as players – for a time, both sides were not seeing eye to eye.
ISN – Was your issue solely financial?
Moonlight – No not entirely but something had to change to hold players in the 7’s program – we were losing players overseas and also losing trainers who are a big part of our core group. We needed a voice to bring attention to these issues, we felt we needed to be heard to ensure we remained competitive at an international level.
ISN – So if I’m to understand correctly, money wasn’t the sole driving reason for players and trainers to leave?
Moonlight – We needed to feel appreciated. We felt as a group we needed to do something and stand up for the young players coming up. There was a bigger issue then just money.
ISN – As Captain, was it your call to approach Rugby Canada with your list of differences after speaking with the team? John, can you elaborate on how that panned out?
Moonlight – No, not entirely. It was a group of the senior players with a six year history on the team who went to the young guys and spoke candidly to them to get their feedback – we lost Conor Trainor and a list of other guys; something had to be done to keep this core group together to compete at a high level.
ISN – Was coaching anything to do with this dispute?
Moonlight – No I don’t think so, Liam’s fate was already decided before this all started.
ISN –With this new coach, Damian McGrath, was the team a part of the interview process?
Moonlight – No, we weren’t a part of the interview process; we didn’t know who they were going to hire.
ISN – What are your thoughts on Damian McGrath?
Moonlight – I haven’t played for him, or even met him yet as our first training session isn’t until Tuesday, however, he coached Samoa 7’s team last year and I believe he led Samoa to a 9th place finish in the 7’s world series, and captured the cup title in Paris. He was England’s assistant coach at the 2000 Rugby League World Cup. He seems like a very nice guy; I’ve heard great things about him, only chatted with him briefly last year; I’m excited to meet him.
ISN – it’s been discussed throughout the inner circles of the Rugby community that Phil Mack may have been a potential coach for the men’s Rugby 7’s team – have you heard that?
Moonlight – I’m not sure, but personally I think Philly would be a great coach; he’s working to get himself involved more, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him at this level in 4 or 5 years – the guys love him – he knows the game and would be a great mentor.
ISN – Switching gears – what’s it like to put on a Canadian jersey?
Moonlight – There’s nothing like it in the world; when you pull on that Jersey you are pulling on the country; it puts it on another level; it’s a very special feeling – you can never take it for granted as you never know when it will be the last time. Injuries at this level of play can take you out and end a career in an instance.
ISN – Let’s finish off this interview with a bit of humour if you’ll indulge me. Who’s the worst dresser on your team?
Moonlight – Oh we got some guys in there – some real beauties. I would have to go with Matt Mullan, but maybe it’s me come to think of it.
ISN – Whose the worst chirper who tries so hard but can’t?
Moonlight – Nanyak, hands down. He gets too excited when he tries to chirp and he struggles to get it out.
ISN – Who’s the worst napper? The guy that sleeps all the time?
Moonlight – That’s an easy one – that’s Nanyak again! Probably dreaming of his next chirp.
ISN – What’s the worst travel accompaniment you ever seen a player take on the road?
Moonlight – Hearn – he wore these slippers all the time. He’d walk through the hotel with these slippers on wherever he went.
ISN – Canadian slippers?
Moonlight – No, not even – furry slippers; I’m like dude, just put some shoes on man.
ISN – Worst eater?