On September 26, a packed crowd of 33,000 rugby fans at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds, England, watched as Canada made its final substitution of the match. With just under 10 minutes to go in the game and a tight scoreline at 20-18 in favour of their Italian opponents, Harry Jones ran onto the field sporting the red Canadian jersey for his first ever match in the Rugby World Cup.
“At the time, it was kind of hard to soak it all in because you’re concentrating on going on the field and doing your job, but after the game it was pretty cool because the guys came up to me and said congratulations,” Jones said. “At the last World Cup, there were guys that didn’t get to play at all ... with me being the new guy to the World Cup — I’d never been before — I thought that maybe there was a chance of that.”
“I consider myself quite lucky as well because I’ve been playing sevens all year ... Jumping into the 15s game — because they’re two completely different games — it’s tough to adapt,” Jones continued. “To be able to make it into the team and get some playing time in the World Cup was pretty exciting for me.”
“Obviously, the rugby side of things didn’t go our way ... but just the experience was unbelievable,” Jones said. “Especially being in England, which is a huge rugby nation, ordinary people would come up to you in the street and say hey, be interested in where we're from and how long we’ve played rugby for — you never really get that around here.”
Jones began his career with the Canadian rugby team while attending UBC for a degree in commerce. Throughout the degree, he played on and off with the sevens national team while also playing for the ‘Birds varsity team.
“It was a few steps up from high school rugby, playing against bigger guys and figuring out what’s the best way to get around them. Tactically as well, it was obviously a little more serious,” Jones continued. “Coming into my first year, I don’t think I was with the varsity team straight away, but within a few games I was able to get onto that team. With the competition there as well and being a young guy, it kind of pushes you to train a little bit harder ... I am really competitive and I wanted to keep my spot.”
Jones also had the opportunity to play with his brothers Ben and Charlie, who are twins, during his time with the ‘Birds.
“They’re two years older than me, so I got to see what they were doing before I got serious in sport,” Jones said. “They were unbelievable players and would have easily been playing for the national team if they didn’t get so many injuries ... I just wanted to follow in their footsteps and do what they did. I was lucky enough to keep my body in pretty good [shape], not get too many injuries, so I was able to keep going.”
In 2012, upon graduation, Jones joined the sevens full time in Victoria. Since then, he has been a part of both the national sevens and 15s team while also earning his diploma in urban land economics and starting his bachelor of business in real estate at UBC.
Today, Jones is back in Vancouver getting ready for next spring’s World Rugby Sevens Series at BC Place as well as a potential medal run with the sevens team at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
Although they still have to qualify for Rio, Jones said he feels pretty strongly that Canada is a medal contender. “If everything goes to plan, we’ll qualify and go to the Olympics,” Jones said. “Once we get there and are on form, I think we can do some pretty special things.”