CUMNOCK rugby star Jack McCalman says he feels “privileged” to have worn the green and gold for Australia at this month’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney.
Winning a silver medal was just surreal.
The First XV skipper of GPS giants Kings in 2013, McCalman helped lead the Australian Rugby Sevens side throughout its youth Olympic campaign at St Ignatius College at Riverview, taking home silver after a 22-7 final loss against South Africa.
The highlight of a flourishing rugby union career to date, the 17-year-old was thrilled with the achievement.
“It’s a great feeling. When you look at the boys on TV, [playing for Australia] just looks so surreal, so far away,” said McCalman, back visiting family in Orange and Cumnock before returning to Sydney for school yesterday.
“Then you get to this, it’s probably the pinnacle of schoolboy rugby. Under 18s boys, this is as high as it’s going to get.
“That’s a great feeling. I feel very privileged to get the opportunity and I loved every second of it.
“It was one of the best weeks of my life, certainly rugby-wise it was.”
McCalman played in the backrow for the sevens championship throughout the carnival staged over two days from January 18.
The first round matches were played in 46 degree heat, but the mercury plagued visiting sides more than it did the Australians as they went on to win the first game 21-14 against Tonga, the second 72-0 versus China then 50-0 against Japan.
The only pool match Australia lost was to eventual champions South Africa, 30-12.
“It was nice and hot to play four games of rugby,” McCalman said.
“[Losing to South Africa] was a disappointing loss to finish what was a pretty good day.”
Forced into a play-off match against China, Australia won comfortably again.
They then moved into a semi-final clash with Tonga.
“That was probably the best game we played,” he said.
“We beat them 45-0 and then went into the final against South Africa, which was a really good game. It was a tough game. The South African team played with a lot of class, they’re a good sevens team.”
And in the end class prevailed, with South Africa winning by 15 points to claim gold.
The Aussies suffered a setback in the final with one of McCalman’s teammates receiving a yellow card, which left Australia down to six men for two minutes.
It’s not as long as the regular 10 minutes in the sin-bin in the 15-man game, but in sevens rugby every second counts.
“That two minutes in sevens is a long time.”
“Still, it was a fantastic result. You’ll always take a silver medal. I’m very privileged to have played for Australia.”