Original article by Andrew Smith, BC Rugby Communications 

COMOX, BC –  Our latest BC Rugby First XV Volunteer currently resides in the Comox Valley where he spends his time supporting the Kickers mini rugby program, the Youth and Women’s teams and the North Island Tsunami Academy program. Colin Chappell is also the VP for the Vancouver Island Rugby Union’s Youth and Mini programs and has served as the VIRU juniors league coordinator, often a thankless task that requires plenty of hours during the season.

“Colin has put in a huge amount of effort getting the fall junior rugby program underway, running a 7-a-side/10-a-side tournament for the first two weeks and then sorting out a number of challenges for initiating the 15-a-side competitions,” said VIRU President Andrew Spray. “He has done a first class job since taking over the position last February.”

Chappell first came to Vancouver Island in 1981 on a rugby tour and eventually moved to Nanaimo in 1982 and played with the Hornets until ’85. Once his playing career wrapped up, Chappell became involved as a volunteer and refereed until 1989. During the ’90s Chappell was heavily involved in volunteering for the Olympic Canoeing program as his son was a paddler. After a series of moves for work that took him across the province, Chappell returned to the Island where he has put down roots in Comox and has been volunteering in the local community since 2006.

We caught up with our latest XV Volunteer and this is what he had to say…

How long have you been involved as a volunteer with rugby?
I stopped playing in 1985, refereed in Vancouver 1987-1989 and moved my time to Olympic canoeing as my son was a paddler. I became a National Official, and National Vice Chair in 1992. Stayed with Canoeing until 1998 when I chaired the first and only National Championship held in Whistler, British Columbia. With work I moved to Williams Lake, Parksville and Ucluelet, where time limited my efforts with rugby. On moving to the Comox Valley in 2006 I was asked to help out. I presently enjoy helping the Kickers minis, Youth and Women’s rugby programs, the North Island Tsunami program and VP  for the Vancouver Island Rugby’s Youth and Mini programs.

Why is volunteering important to you and why have you dedicated so many hours to the VIRU and Comox programs?
1. I enjoy it.
2. To stay out from under Sharon my wife’s feet
3. To give back to a great sport.

What is the secret to balancing so many hours of rugby with your professional life?
It is only time. In life we are told to pay ourselves first. After my Family, I pay myself by being active in a great team sport, and enjoy working with others to make something happen. The hardest thing to learn is to say No. Still more training on that required, but I am enjoying the environment especially at the Mini and Youth level.

Can you tell us a bit about your playing career? How did you first get involved with Comox?
I started playing at 10 1/2 years of age. My school teacher Doug Wooding had played for Glamorgan back in the 60’s. I played for Somerset schools and Colts. As a 17 year old I played my first senior game for Weston-Super-Mare in 1971 who I captained in 81-82 after returning to Weston-S-Mare after playing three season at Bath. I moved to Nanaimo Hornets in September ’82 having Toured here in ’81 and played with them from ’82 - ’85.

What positions have you played and which one is your strongest?
As a school boy - fly half, full back, prop and no.8. But second row or lock was by far my best position.

Have you ever played/coached/volunteered at another rugby club other than Comox? 
No other clubs – only Tsunami (North Island) programs which I help with.

Who is your favourite Canadian rugby player (ever)?
Gary Dukelow. More because of the competition when Nanaimo played Cowichan. But working with him now coaching youth players, he is very giving of his knowledge and also his experiences.

Who is your current favourite rugby player and why?
Jebb Sinclair.  His determination to compete, for Canada, London Irish and Stormers. always impresses me when on the field. Full of running and support of a team mate.

Do you see yourself leaving the game of rugby any time soon?
As a coach, yes. As a volunteer, no. I hope to work with Comox Kickers club to keep growing the sport and the Tsunami program to better develop young players coaches and referees. There is a lot to keep doing as young players find rugby.

What is your greatest rugby memory either as a player or as a volunteer?
As a player I have several. Playing on Twickenham for Bath versus Harlequins and winning, Scoring a try for Weston-Super-Mare against David Duckham and Coventry in Westons centennial year. But my best memory is of playing for Bath versus Llanelli on the rec winning a lineout on their 5m, tapping the ball down to the scrum half and the centre scoring under the posts to win the game and the Rag Doll, which is all that the two clubs annually played for back then.

The First XV Volunteer Appreciation program is an initiative designed to recognize the valuable pillars of our membership that help keep our sport afloat. Over the course of the season we will recognize 15 valuable members of the community. Each recognized volunteer will be presented with a “thank you” item, a customized BC Rugby Umbrella. Each individual will then receive another 10 thank you BC Rugby travel mugs to show their appreciation to the top 10 volunteers that work alongside them in their club.