PHOTOS: Rugby Nats get hands-on training at Port Coquitlam firehall

Taylor Paris is used to tearing apart opponents on the rugby pitch. Wednesday, Paris and some of his teammates on Canada’s national men’s side got a chance to tear apart cars during a hands-on tour of Port Coquitlam’s firehall #1.

The players were on a break from training at St. Georges school in Vancouver in advance of a test match against the United States, Saturday at BC Place, as both sides make their way to Japan for the World Cup that begins Sept. 20. Instead of scrumming down or running lineouts, they pried open car doors with the jaws of life. They also learned first-hand that navigating a maul is no match for manhandling a fully-charged fire hose.

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The visit was also a reunion with one of their own. Until two years ago, Port Coquitlam firefighter Jason Marshall was a prop on the national side for eight years. He also played professionally in France for several years.

Marshall said, aside from physical requirements, rugby and firefighting share several similar attributes like camaraderie and the need to work together as a team.

But, he admitted, “there is a seriousness to this job.”

The environs of the firehall weren’t totally unfamiliar to Paris, a 6’1” wing who’s originally from Barrie, Ont. While playing in France he achieved part of the certification required to become a firefighter there. He said the transition between the two worlds can be relatively seamless, although, he admitted, ripping apart a car is a lot harder work than racing through a line of defenders on the rugby pitch.

“We’re just playing a game,” he said. “These guys are saving lives.”

• Canada plays the U.S. on Saturday, 7 p.m., at BC Place. The team’s first match at the World Cup in Japan will be Sept. 26, against Italy.

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