PEI

Summerside rugby player working toward World Cup, despite COVID

Summerside's Kyle Baillie is hoping to get his second crack at playing in the Rugby World Cup, after getting injured early in the competition in 2019.

‘It's a big year for us. It's our World Cup qualifying year.’

Kyle Baillie was made captain of the Nola Gold this year. (Craig Boudreaux / NOLA Gold Rugby)

Summerside's Kyle Baillie is hoping to get his second crack at playing in the Rugby World Cup, after getting injured early in the competition in 2019.

Baillie is currently in New Orleans, captain of the Nola Gold of Major League Rugby. The pandemic cut play short last year, but he said things are going pretty smoothly this season, despite a few teammates catching the virus early on.

"We test twice a week, so we're always getting tested so that guys are aware of what's happening, try to keep everyone safe," he said.

"Majority of the team has been vaccinated now, thankfully, which is nice. It's just that vaccine's pretty readily available down here."

The team travels by air, wearing N95 masks and goggles on the planes and in the airports. That and other COVID precautions have enabled Baillie to keep playing, which is important, because he has his eye on a big goal: The 2023 World Cup in France.

Rejoining national team

It would be his second trip to the World Cup.

He was the first Prince Edward Islander to play in that elite competition, though his participation in Japan in 2019 was cut short by injury.

When the Major League Rugby season ends he will return to Canada to rejoin the national team.

"It's a big year for us. It's our World Cup qualifying year," said Baillie.

"We're supposed to play a few games against the U.S. for an opportunity to go to the World Cup. So we have to play those games this year and some South American teams, too. So it's a big year for us to qualify."

Baillie, who just turned 30, believes he still has a few good years in him. He has re-signed with the Nola Gold for next year.

And the big target of 2023 remains.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Laura Chapin

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