As part of our run-up to Provincial Regional Championships, we have interviewed a few players who have come up through the regional competition and are now in the Canadian national team system. Our first interview is with Langley’s Liam Murray.
Liam Murray has done a lot for a 20-year old. When most guys his age are navigating university campuses, Liam has chosen to travel and pursue rugby.
Like a lot of players from the Valley, he’s a big body. At six-foot-two and 250lbs, he’s a hulking figure. Growing up in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood, Liam played high school rugby at nearby Brookswood Secondary. Brookswood is not known as a rugby school. “We were Double-A, Tier 2, we only played about four or five games a year”. Although his high school was not prolific, Liam went way out of his way to pursue rugby and challenge himself. “I was in the PRC’s for Valley Central for a couple years. My first year was when I was 15. After that, I made the BC team”. A few years later, in 2016, Liam moved from Langley to Yorkshire, England, to learn about the British style of play. This was all in preparation for a Canada U20 tour to Ireland.
This first trip served to whet Liam’s travel appetite and it wasn’t long until he was travelling again, with rugby on the mind. He bought a ticket to a location that’s just about the farthest you can get away from Canada (and also rugby’s Mecca): New Zelaand. Landing in Auckland, he played for a local club side, Ardmore Marist and was thrilled to be selected for a Jock Hobb’s tournament team (Jock Hobb’s is NZ’s biggest U18 tournament). Liam’s hard work and commitment was about to be paid off as his proudest rugby moment came when his team won the Jock Hobb’s Memorial gold. “All the work that went in, three months leading up to it, with training two days a week on top of club training, it was good to see it pay off”. Overall, he says New Zealand was a great experience and wants to go back some day, to play pro, there, or in Australia.
Liam has settled in Victoria, for now. He likes Victoria, saying it has the same small-town vibe as Brookswood. He’s not far from home, but has a new family amongst James Bay Athletic Association’s, along with fellow Canadian nationals and front rowers, Noah Barker and Cole Keith. “Being away from family and friends is tough, but it’s good for personal growth and development. Getting away from mom’s cooking might have helped me too”, he laughs, alluding to his drop from 280lbs to 250lbs after starting Rugby Canada’s fitness programs.
In October 2017, Liam moved to Victoria and became a carded athlete in the Rugby Canada system, recently playing for the Canada Selects against the Ontario Arrows. He splits his time between Victoria and Langford. He treats playing for Canada as a professional, “It’s like any other workplace. You’re together all the time. The atmosphere is nothing but professional”, he says. “There is higher pressure, but you have to relax. The coaches are good at reinforcing that”.
Liam’s rugby journey started with humble beginnings. He didn’t play at a Shawnigan, a St. Georges, or an Oak Bay, but he went out of his way to pursue rugby and challenging situations. He played at PRCs and made it his goal to get better, putting himself out of his comfort zone time and time again.
If he was to give any advice to younger players looking to do the same thing he did, he points to attitude, “Always go with a good attitude. Always strive to make yourself better. If you don’t make the team, get back to work, go to the gym”. Liam Murray always strives to make himself improve and make himself better. Maybe that is why he keeps improving: because he never stops moving.
Image courtesy of Canada
Look for our next interview segment with Richmond’s Valerie Wideski!