Rugby Canada to honour Afghan veteran whose recovery from axe attack continues to inspire players
Capt. Trevor Greene is 'living the theme of resilience,' says Rugby Canada director
The Canada Sevens rugby tournament will honour a Canadian veteran whose incredible comeback from a traumatic injury has inspired players over the years.
Rugby Canada says it plans to name former soldier Capt. Trevor Greene an honorary Canada Sevens ambassador on Wednesday to "recognize an individual who has inspired and impacted both the sport of rugby and the local community."
The organization says it's in recognition of Greene's presence around the team over the years and for what it calls the sport's ongoing connection to first responders and military personnel and their families.
"He's sort of living the theme of resilience," Rugby Canada director Gareth Rees said of Greene, adding his story is about sacrifice and "what it means not only to be Canadian but to represent Canada."
During his tour of duty in 2006 Greene was attacked by an axe-wielding teenager while sipping tea with village elders during a gathering to meet with Afghan civilians in a non-combat capacity near Kandahar.
Over the years, Greene has made a remarkable recovery: he is walking, talking, standing unassisted, and can even use a bench press. He has also made progress with his post-traumatic stress disorder.
He's told his story through TED talks and motivational speaking engagements, including to Canada's men's rugby team in 2011.
Rees says a big part of the rapport between Greene and the players is his understanding of "rugby values."
It helps that Greene was an amateur player for years before his injury.
"We're very careful not to compare actual risk that our first responders and our forces are taking on," Rees said. "But [there are] some parallels there: how to become a team, how to come together and fight against the enemy.
"And in their case it's a real enemy. In our case it's just another international team."
CBC was not able to interview Greene before he was named to the honorary position, but in a pre-recorded video statement provided by Rugby Canada, he agreed.
"There are times when you're bone-tired and cold and you have to act for your mates. It's the same thing in battle," Greene said.
"That's the similarity: getting your shit together for your mates."
Rugby Canada says Greene's honorary ambassadorship is also a recognition of what it says are a number of former high-performance Canadian rugby players who have gone on to become first responders.
While Greene's honorary title is being bestowed Wednesday, in a way he's been with the Canadian men's rugby team a lot longer than that. The team's stuffed moose mascot, present at every game, is named Captain Greene in his honour.
"You don't mess around with the moose," Rees said. "And if the rookie forgets him, he's in big trouble because he represents a lot."
The Canada Sevens tournament will run from March 3 to 5 at Vancouver's B.C. Place and will feature both men's and women's teams.
- A previous version of this story said Greene spoke to the men's sevens team in 2011 and the team subsequently named a mascot after him. In fact, it was Canada's men’s rugby team. Also, a previous headline image mistakenly did not include Greene as part of a photo of an amateur rugby team. It has been replaced.Feb 08, 2023 8:02 PM PT
With files from Zahra Premji