Nfld. & Labrador

Fans cheer on St. John's native Pat Parfrey as Rugby Canada beats U.S. on Swilers field

It’s a moment that St. John’s native and Rugby Canada player Pat Parfrey never thought he would get — beating the United States in a World Cup qualifying game on the field where he started his career. 

Canada beat the Americans 34-21 Saturday afternoon in St. John’s

Pat Parfrey answers questions from the media following Rugby Canada's win over the United States on Saturday afternoon in St. John's. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

It's a moment that St. John's native and Rugby Canada player Pat Parfrey never thought he would get — beating the United States in a World Cup qualifying game on the field where he started his career. 

Parfrey and Team Canada beat the United States 34-21 Saturday afternoon at the Swilers Rugby Club in St. John's, their first win against the Americans since 2013.

"I grew up playing rugby on this pitch since I was six years old. Watching my brothers play, hanging around my dad the whole time," said Parfrey. "So being around here with all my club mates, my friends, my family, it's amazing."

Fans lined the field to see the first international rugby match played in the province since 2006 — and to cheer on the hometown favourite. 

"It was an amazing feeling. We haven't been on that winning front in a while so it's good to get that here in St. John's," said Parfrey.

Parfrey, who plays for the Toronto Arrows of Major League Rugby, is part of Canada's 30-man roster for the World Cup qualifying series. (Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

It wasn't just a special day for Parfrey but also for his father, Patrick Parfrey Sr., who helped build the field his son competed on. 

In 1986, Parfrey Sr. said, they were able to obtain the old city landfill and put in a grass field. Over the past 30 years, they've been fundraising for more club amenities. 

"The whole day was extremely rewarding," said Parfrey Sr. 

Back on the pitch, Parfrey Jr., subbed into the game in the last 10 minutes of play. The crowd was on their feet chanting his name. 

"If I wasn't going to put him on I didn't think I was going to get out alive," Rugby Canada head coach Kingsley Jones said after the game, chuckling.

"It was a great performance and a great win. We got better as the game went on."

Saturday marked the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that Team Canada has played a match of that calibre. Jones, who was pleased to be back playing in front of an audience, said fans played their part in making it challenging for the United States to catch a rhythm. 

Wendy Mukerji, middle right, flew from London, Ont., to watch the game in St. John's. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Wendy Mukerji flew from London, Ont., to be at the game in St. John's. She's a fan of the Toronto Arrows, who Parfrey and several other members of Rugby Canada's roster play for.

"It's amazing. Our guys are doing really, really well so it's so exciting to be here," she said. 

Mukerji said Saturday's game was the first time she's been in a crowd setting since the start of the pandemic. 

"I am double-vaccinated so I am feeling OK. But yes, it's different. Definitely different."

Canada plays the second game of the aggregate series against the United States on Sept. 11 in Glendale, Colo.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meg Roberts is a video journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador, based in St. John's. Email her at meg.roberts@cbc.ca.

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