The men’s rugby fly half looks back on his Stingers career
On Oct. 22, the Stingers’ men’s rugby team played their last game of the season. The 36-29 loss against the Ottawa Gee-Gees meant that for a few graduating players like Luca Milne, a fourth-year political science student, their career with Concordia was officially over.
The starting fly-half had been with the team since he first came to Concordia in 2019, when he was 17 years old. Coming from Ireland, he had never set foot in Canada before.
“Rugby is a lot bigger in Ireland than it is here. I started in high school, when I was about 12,” Milne recalled.
Milne grew up playing soccer and never even considered playing rugby at first.
“My dad played rugby, so he dragged me onto the pitch. I didn’t even want to play when I first saw it. He literally just forced me to play and I had no other choice. That was basically it and I just didn’t stop,” he chuckled.
Milne also noted how rugby facilitated his transition from Ireland to Canada, as well as from high school to university.
“I was really young during my first year,” he said. “I came in a team with a lot of older guys, but I never had any problems. Everyone was very nice and they helped me settle in really well.”
Team captain Stan Blazkowski, who started alongside Milne, looked back on his teammate’s rugby debut.
“He looked like he was still a kid. He wasn’t speaking much and spent his first two games on the development team,” Blazkowski recalled. “Then, he had one good game and the coaches thought it would be a good idea to bring him in on the first team. He had another great game and he’s been our starting #10 ever since.”
That season, the Stingers went on to win the RSEQ championship.
Throughout his three seasons with the Stingers, which would have been four if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, Milne grew to be more comfortable with his role as a fly-half, which he only claimed at Concordia.
“He became more vocal,” said Blazkowski. “Basically, he’s like the quarterback of the team and needs to give a lot of orders, which he wasn’t really comfortable — or used to — [doing] in his first season.”
“The main aspect he improved is communication; the rest, he already had it. The rugby skills and everything, he came with it,” Blazkowski continued.
Milne also felt like his performance over the years improved.
“This year was the first one in which I was able to score a couple tries,” said Milne, who ended the season as the second-best scorer, only eight points behind Blazkowski. “I think I really made progress every year. I always try to improve my game and learn more.”
But for him, what stands out is the close bonds he made with his teammates.
“I’ve played with some of these players for four years, we’ve gone through a lot together,” he said with a hint of nostalgia. “I’m not just never going to see them again. They’re definitely friends for life and we’re always going to remember the days we had on the pitch.”
“Rugby was a huge part of my university life,” he continued. “I spent four days a week training and then, a game on the weekend, and that was every fall for the last four years, so it’s weird now not training anymore,” he said. “I feel restless. I’ll have to keep playing rugby when I leave just to keep myself busy.”
But Milne is at peace with leaving Concordia as well as his beloved rugby team behind.
“Whenever I look back and think about my university life, the first thing that comes to mind is always going to be my rugby days. They have definitely been my most enjoyable and memorable days out of the lot.”