Nothing makes Joshua Elbourne feel more free than hitting the field for a rugby game.
The feeling of grass beneath his cleats, dirt on his face and sweat dripping down his face is like no other.
“(I feel) free. You have a lot of options when you’re on the field. I’m focused on the game and winning,” said the 15-year-old Grade 10 Esquimalt High student.
It’s a passion that began not too long ago, when Elbourne started high school in Grade 9. An avid lacrosse and soccer player, Elbourne was looking for a sport that would challenge him physically and mentally. That’s when he decided to join the school’s rugby academy and after his first game, was hooked.
“The first time I played it was a lot of fun and I instantly liked the game,” said Elbourne, who plays centre. “It’s a rough sport and everyone is nice after the game. I like that the coaches challenge me everyday to try my hardest.”
Elbourne is proving he’s a force on the field with the high school academy. During the West Shore Sevens tournament at Juan de Fuca rec centre last week, the boys’ team finished second, losing in the finals to Oak Bay. Elbourne scored two tries in that final game.
He’s making a difference at the provincial level as well. Elbourne recenty joined the B.C. U16 team. The team recently participated in a tournament in Las Vegas, where they finished third in their age category, playing against several different countries.
Esquimalt High’s athletic director Mike Thompson said Elbourne’s agility, fitness and field awareness set him apart from his teammates.
“His agility and fitness really sets him apart from the rest of the kids. He’s got great field awareness. When he’s out on the field, he’s a standout compared to the rest of the crowd,” Thompson said.
“He really knows what’s happening on the field. Josh has an understanding of being able to read the play, which means he knows where he needs to be at all times. He puts himself in a place where he’s creating plays for upcoming plays.”
Competing in a physically demanding sport has left Elbourne with a few bumps and bruises. At the beginning of the season, he suffered a concussion after taking a knee to the head, but that hasn’t slowed him down from playing the sport he loves.
In his senior year, Elbourne hopes to land a rugby scholarship.