From Canada to New Zealand – Playing Rugby Abroad in Taranaki Part 3: Noah Interviews Callum Botchar
by Noah Bain
Hello again, and thanks for tuning in to BCRN. Congrats to those named for the BC Bears squads and good luck in your comps this summer. I am excited to watch from afar! Another congrats to the many of those being named to PR 7s squads. That is huge accomplishment and is sure to be an action packed few weeks of competition with many Canadians going. Lots of North American Rugby to look forward to this summer, exciting times! Moving forward, this article is going to be formatted a little differently than previous ones.
This past weekend, the Canadians finally clashed as Spotswood took on the top-of-the-table New Plymouth Old Boys. Up until about the 60th minute, it was a close game, with the Spotty boys really putting in a strong performance. Unfortunately, as expected, NPOB came out on top in the end. All the Canadians played well, and it was a great experience to compete against and alongside each other on a completely different side of the world.
After the game, I had the opportunity to catch up with an old friend and fellow Canadian, Callum Botchar. Callum and I have been playing rugby together since we were about 15, participating in some BCEY 7’s events when it was still a thing. Shout out to Shane Thompson, Winston Stanley, and Roger Robinson, the GOATs. I actually stayed with Callum’s family during the U17 BC Camp, and they were absolutely lovely. We continued playing rugby at the provincial level until we went our separate ways, with Callum heading to UBC and myself going to UVic.
Luckily, I was able to conduct a short interview with the rising star and Taranaki wider squad legend, Botch, and asked him a few questions about his experience here in Taranaki. It went something like this…
Noah: Hi Callum, we are live here in Vogeltown, the heart of the New Plymouth Old Boys empire. How are you doing today? Its Friday and weve got the day off together. (I lied, I interviewed him before the game, not after as per above haha)
Callum: Im doing well. Feeling good on this Friday arvo.
Noah: Okay great, Ive prepared a few questions for ya so here goes nothing.
Noah: How are you finding NZ rugby compared to BC? What are some of the differences in the training environment? The games?
Callum: NZ Premier Rugby is a lot more intense than in BC. The training environments are similar to the club rugby back home, but the skill level is a bit higher. Games are faster and a lot more physical. The play style is more expansive and the ball gets moved around a lot more.
Noah: Whats been the biggest adjustment youve had to make play style wise?
Callum: I definitely have to be more technically focused because you cant get away with some of the things you would back in BC like body height, footwork into contact, and defensive positioning.
Noah: Would any teams from BC stand a chance out here?
Callum: The top teams in BC Prem could do okay, but there is a major skill gap with players in general across the board.
Noah: What have you learned so far?
Callum: So far I have learned to focus on the 1 percenters of technique and skill. At this level, its those things that will separate from being good or bad.
Noah: Whats something you wish NZ rugby would learn from BC rugby? And vice versa.
Callum: Getting the community around the club is something that BC could do. There is a massive majority of people who participate in rugby on Saturdays, and more of the general public rather than old boys/alumni, etc centralized to the club. BC Club Rugby definitely has a lot of similar influences to the club rugby here.
Noah: Would you suggest this experience to any young players looking to play higher level rugby?
Callum: Yes I would! It is a fantastic opportunity if you get the chance.
Noah: Whats the dream outcome of your time here in NZ?
Callum: To play for an NPC team, which is the provincial competition here. Ultimately play Super Rugby as well if I was able to get the chance.
Noah: How many meat pies can you eat in one go?
Callum: Four. (Big claim here)
Noah: Whats some weird rugby terminology youve learned while here?
Callum: A switch is a called a cut.(I agree, this one was weird)
Noah: Whats one area of the game youd suggest people from BC should learn if they want to be competitive in NZ?
Callum: Body height into contact is a big one. Catch pass should also be on point. Speed into position is big too – like working off the ball.
Noah: Have you done the haka yet?
Noah: Export Gold or Cruisers?
Callum: Export gold.
Noah: Favourite meat pie?
Callum: Steak and cheese.
Noah: Who would win in a boat race, Canadians or Kiwis?
Callum: Kiwis ??
Noah: Best rugby player youve played with or against here?
Callum: Kaylum Boshier
Noah: Maroons or Blues?
Noah: Mince on toast? W or L?
Noah: Favourite Avenger?
Noah: World Cup winning predictions?
Callum: New Zealand.
Noah: Left side of the road or right?
Noah: Have you got a NZ nickname yet?
Callum: Rooster, Moose, Big Red, Red.
Noah: Good Home, Our Place, or Club Fever?
Callum: Good Home.
Noah: D&B or House?
Noah: Cheese toastie or grilled cheese?
Callum: Cheese toastie.
Noah: Shaun Johnson or Roger Tuivasa Scheck?
Callum: Shaun Johnson.
All in all, we wrapped that up with some good laughs. It was real good to catch up with Big Red himself. Stay tuned for more updates on how hes doing.
Looking past this season, there are 3 rep sides that compete in a competition here and are used as essentially Taranaki development. There is the Maori, Pasifika, and the Trojans. The Canadians are hopeful to crack one of these squads! If not, there is the Heartland Cup competition as well. All of these are quality comps to my understanding with more room to learn, develop, and grow as a player.
For a personal summary, despite game results, we are progressing well in the rugby environment. I did wear headgear in the last game just to change it up and hold all the hair back. Well see if I keep going with it – it was hot! We are getting up to speed with the game here and this last game showed that the Spotty boys really can compete if we put our minds to it. Im proud we kept it as close as we did in the beginning with NPOB. Weve got 3 games left in the season which are all winnable. I am hoping the next time I write this article I can provide you with some good news on a big win! We will keep working hard and again, thank you for all the support from back home, it means the world. Goodbye, for now!