Rugby players across P.E.I. are honouring former high school rugby player Brodie McCarthy by wearing a patch made in his honour on the sleeve of their jerseys.
McCarthy, a Grade 12 student at Montague Regional High School, was injured in a collision on the field while playing in the David Voye Memorial rugby tournament in Summerside in May. He died in hospital after undergoing surgery for a brain injury.
Ellen Murphy, a senior rugby player and high school coach says while she didn't know McCarthy personally, she coached some of his school friends and was friends with his coaches.
"It's just something to remember Brodie. Just something that was easy to do and get it Island wide."
Rugby community supportive
Murphy said the rugby community took the news of Brodie's death hard.
In the days that followed, high school rugby on P.E.I. was put on hold until a decision was made whether or not to let the teams finish the season and Murphy and others looked for ways to offer support.
"We were just sitting around waiting, we were talking with the girls trying to figure what they needed from us," Murphy said of high school girls rugby team she coached.
After talking with a few of her teammates on a senior women's team about ways they could help, they came up with the idea for the patch.
A teammate who was also a graphic designer created the patch using McCarthy's initials and the team colours from Montague.
"It doesn't matter what sport it is, full contact or not, it's just such a small community on P.E.I. ... you almost felt connected to everyone so I just felt this was something I could do to try and bring everyone together."
'Having Brodie with us'
After working to get the patches made and distributed, Murphy said some of the girls she coached on a provincial team who knew McCarthy became quite emotional the first time they put on the jerseys.
"A couple of girls spoke up and said something before they played. Everybody just kind of took a moment and thought about why they were there and what it really meant having Brodie with us during those games."
Murphy is now working to get the patches to all P.E.I. rugby teams so that players can have them on their jerseys by the end of the season.
Murphy said as patches are passed out, it's a good way for coaches to tell players the best techniques of the game.
"You still want athletes to be as safe as possible and as prepared for those contact situations."
Any players interested in purchasing patches can contact the PEI Rugby Union via email. The cost is $5 or a donation and Murphy said any money made above the cost of having the patches made will be donated to a scholarship already created in McCarthy's memory.
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