DC’s rugby team isn’t just a team, it’s a family

Ty Jacob of the Durham Lords tackles a Georgian player during the 2019 Ontario Colleges Athletic Association gold medal game. Photo credit: Tara Sottile

Ty Jacob is a member of Durham Lords men’s rugby team that has just completed back-to-back Ontario championships.

He says the team’s success is based on team members bonding like brothers.

“With rugby and the way you’re putting your body on the line, every single game for your teammates, your brothers, it just elevates the mutual respect for each other,” says Jacob.

Within those two years Jacob says he’s grown not only as a player, but as a person.

“It’s taught me that sacrifice can often result in positive results. It’s opened my eyes to how much being a part of a team means to me,” he says.

Jacob learned about the DC team from head coach, John Watkins, who also is his coach on the Oshawa Vikings club rugby team.

Jacob began to look at programs at DC and decided Mechanical Engineering was a good fit for him.

“When I first started playing rugby, it was just something to pass the time,” Jacob says. “It wasn’t until later in high school until I realized that I enjoy the sport and I’m good at the sport.”

Once he discovered rugby, he abandoned both football and hockey. When Jacob made that decision he says his family didn’t really understand.

“It’s obviously a really rough sport, but I think once you’re involved around the culture of rugby and the social aspect it’s a different sport,” he says.

Not only had Jacob played on two straight championship teams, he’s been named an Ontario Colleges Athletic Association all-star both years. This wasn’t something he was expecting, because he says the Lords are blessed with lots of talent.

“The biggest accomplishment was the gold medal, but obviously it’s an honour to be named as an all-star on such a great team with so many good players too,” he says.

Team captain Malcolm Hooper says Jacob is a fierce competitor.

“He would throw his body on the line to make a tackle, but there was a certain level of fear in the opposition’s eyes when he had the ball in his hands,” says Hooper.

In turn, Jacob says it’s Hooper who actually inspires him.

Jacob knows Hooper’s story – that the team captain was homeless while in high school and has gone on to lead the Lords while also becoming a motivational speaker.

“There’s something about Malcolm where when he speaks you listen. When he says ‘jump’, you jump,” Jacob says.

Jacob also explains the Lords do everything together as a team and because of that when they go out on the pitch they’re not only teammates, but feel like brothers, too.

“We push each other to be better on and off the pitch every day and pick each other up when we fall,” Hooper adds.

After graduating, Jacob wants to continue with his rugby career.

Specifically, he’s interested in connecting with the Toronto Wolfpack, the city’s professional rugby team. He says they’re running an academy program starting in January, so being part of that is his goal for next year.