New Brunswick rugby team gets helping hand from Montreal rivals after van stolen

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New Brunswick rugby team gets helping hand from Montreal rivals after van stolen

After a long drive to Montreal, a New Brunswick rugby team was worried it wouldn't be able to play.

One of the vans the provincial under-18 team, New Brunswick Spruce, rented to make the trip was stolen along with some of the players' equipment and belongings.

"At one point, we had 17 players, and we lost four, because there were four in the van, and they all lost their cleats," said Laughlan Gordon Maclean, whose cleats, jersey, phone, wallet and bag were in the stolen van.

"I was just sitting there like, 'We're not going to have enough to play the field.'"

But the kind of camaraderie the players say is characteristic of rugby clubs everywhere kicked in when their rivals found out what happened.

Teams, referee go the extra mile to help out

The Beaconsfield Rugby Football Club and Montreal Irish Rugby Football Club lent the New Brunswick players' cleats and other equipment so that they could play.

"Both of them stepped up immediately, donating cleats, making sure we had balls and medical supplies for first aid," said Spruce coach Brent Garrish, who had been driving the van and filed a report with police.

The referee for the game Friday even donated his evening's salary to pitch in. 

Garrish said there's a closeness between rival teams in the sport that is "sometimes very unique and very special to rugby."

"It's the greatest part of playing the sport," he said.

Spruce player Geofrey James Mtamakaya, who lost his wallet, cleats and new shoes he had just bought on a trip to the mall with his team, says he was taught to rely on that fraternity when in need.

"Our coaches, and some of the family members are like, 'If you guys run into any trouble, no matter where you are, if you're alone, look on your phones, look for the closest rugby pitch, rugby clubhouse. They'll help you out,'" said Mtamakaya.

"The camarederie and friendships that you make travelling to another province to play other teams that you're just meeting and having them reach out like that, it shows what rugby's all about."​