Calgary Canucks to Prairie Wolf Pack
Jake Bentley is one of three brothers (Josh and Joe are on either side of him, age-wise) who have all played rugby at some time or other, with the Calgary Canucks. They follow in the boots of their Dad, Marty, who continues to have a big presence in rugby in the city and whom I had the great pleasure of working alongside, coaching the Junior Canucks when they were between 7-15 years old.
Jake, who just turned 22 at the beginning of August began playing when he was nine and has gone on to earn the scrum half position with the Senior Canucks men’s team as well as being a strategic member of the Mount Royal University rugby club. He loves playing that key position “because you get to touch the ball almost every phase and with that comes an opportunity to really control the pace of the game for both your team and the opposition.”
Scrum-half understudy to Gordon McRorie
I caught up with Jake at Calgary Rugby Park after the Prairie Wolf Pack game versus Atlantic Rock in the third round of the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC). There are four sub-national (provincial or regional) representative teams in this annual competition, the other two being the BC Bears and Ontario Blues. I asked Jake how playing for the Canucks has helped him prepare for this next level of rugby in Canada. He noted that the biggest thing is the consistency: “Playing with the same guy’s year in and year out, you’ve got a pretty solid team that comes back every year so I think that’s huge”, he said.
Jake began his career with the Wolf Pack last season as the understudy to international scrum-half, Gordon McRorie, who was part of Canada’s squad at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. I was curious to hear how this had helped Jake to improve his play at “Number 9”, a position that requires an old head on a youngster to survive and thrive. “I don’t think you can get a better mentor than Gordie, he’s always willing to help,” said Jake. “If you ask him a question he takes you aside and he gives you more than enough to go off of and he encourages you to come back with more questions.”
Despite a last-minute push by the Wolf Pack that saw them score a couple of tries, the game went in favour of the Rock by a score of 33-29 (you can read the match report here). Jake was positive about the experience and the challenge of switching from wing to scrum-half in the latter part of the game. “I had to get used to running towards the ruck because I was getting used to not running towards the ruck. So some old habits came back and they paid off.”
Wolf Pack scorers club
Jake scored his first-ever try for the Wolf Pack in the game. Unselfishly, he gave credit to his centre who sucked in the opposition and gave him a brilliant pass. “Actually, Bonts (Adam Bontus) did all of the work and just put me away so all I had to do was dot (the ball) down but, nonetheless I’m very happy and excited to be part of the Wolf Pack scorers club.”
The Wolf Pack and Rock go at it again today and compete for the bronze position in the CRC. “We are going to take what we saw today and implement it because it’s a big game. We are going to have to come together as a full fifteen and beat the Rock for that third place position in the CRC.”
A match report and photos from the bronze game, Prairie Wolf Pack versus Atlantic Rock will follow soon.
You can see the interview here: