SPORTS

Olympian Jesse Lumsden gets a different style of training with Rugby Canada

09/24/2014 03:15 EDT | Updated 11/24/2014 05:59 EST
LANGFORD, B.C. - Jesse Lumsden thought he knew all about running — that is, until he took to the rugby pitch this week.

The former CFL running back, who also pushed a bobsled for Canada at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, worked out with the Canadian men's rugby team Monday and Tuesday. It was part of Rugby Canada's search for the best sevens players leading up to the 2016 Summer Games.

"I played a bit of rugby in high school and here and there in university," he said after participating in speed, fitness and skill assessments. "The terminology, it slowly starts coming back. My left-hand pass is terrible compare to my right, but there's so much to learn.

"In these two days in a training environment I've run more than I have in the last five years, not even joking. This sport is about running."

While it's too early to tell if Lumsden, who captured the '04 Hec Crighton Trophy as Canadian university's top player while at McMaster, will be on the Olympic roster two years from now, he has impressed Rugby Canada high performance manager Steve Lancaster with his athleticism.

"We know he's an athlete, but we've learned he's an impressive individual as well," he said. "He ticks a lot of boxes on the character front as well as on the athletic front.

"He didn't look out of place at all, pleasantly surprised for someone who hasn't played a lot of rugby. Clearly he's played a lot of football, but he fit in pretty well, I thought."

Rugby Canada is launching its Try 4 Gold campaign in October, a nation-wide search for high-performance athletes who've never played rugby but are interested in participating.

If Lumsden, who was born in Edmonton but grew up in Burlington, Ont., doesn't make the team, he hopes he has helped bring attention to the national program just by showing up.

"I don't know what's going to happen," he said. "If anything that comes out of this is awareness to rugby sevens that's going to be in Rio, that's an amazing thing and hopefully we can find more athletes."

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