He’s chased rugby balls the world over, but Surrey’s Gurvinder Kalar is aiming for glory with Burnaby Lake

Published: May 8, 2014
rugby-Sikh-Surrey

Surrey’s Sikh rugby player Gurvinder Kalar. Patrick Johnston/Vancouver Desi

PATRICK JOHNSTON
VANCOUVER DESI

VANCOUVER – He switched clubs to get a taste of playoff rugby. He’s gotten that, and he’s going to get even more.

That’s the Gurvinder Kalar story. The 6’2″, 250 lbs forward moved to Burnaby Lake RFC this season and it’s a decision that’s paid off.

Burnaby Lake faces powerhouse James Bay for the second year in a row in the CDI Premier League final, looking to avenge last year’s 18-10 loss to the Bays. Burnaby’s never won the title, James Bay has won 23, but the addition of Kalar to an already powerful Burnaby Lake pack is one of many reason to favour the league leaders this Saturday at Klahanie Park in West Vancouver (4:00 p.m. kickoff, admission $15, or watch online at bcrugby.com).

James Bay defeated arch-rival Castaway Wanderers 16-13 in one semi final two weeks ago, while Burnaby Lake outclassed Capilano 30-17.

“I wasn’t ready to stop playing premier,” the 27-year-old Surrey native said. He’d been at Bayside, but with the South Surrey outfit relegated after a rough 2012-13 season, a move to a new club was in the offing. But which one? Given his day job running his own gym – he owns the Anytime Fitness location at 64th Avenue and Scott Road in Surrey – switching to Burnaby Lake made geographic sense.

But he knew it wouldn’t be an easy switch, in the playing sense. With the Blue and Whites champing at the bit to get back to the Rounsefell Cup final – they lost last year’s championship to James Bay – Kalar knew it wouldn’t be easy to win playing time. A year ago, they built their surprising success from a powerful forward pack; it was a safe bet to be the same this season.

“Coming in to a forward pack that was pretty dominant, I was on the fence, no one wants to move clubs and risk not having a spot,” he said. “But it’s as I hoped, the winning culture is so great.”

He’s had a pretty great season, playing in all 14 of Burnaby Lake’s CDI Premier League games. He even bagged four tries.

But for all the on-field success he’s had, Kalar is quick to mention the social parts of the game as the strongest motivation.

“It’s hard to put a finger on it of what exactly it is I love about the game, you can’t not love contact, but my best friends are pretty much from rugby, that’s definitely one of the things that draws me in,” he said.

“Growing up, I was always the big kid, I was never super-coordinated in terms of sports, I never thought of myself as a big kid, I played soccer before I got to Tamanawis Secondary in grade 8.

“But rugby suits me a bit more,” he said with a chuckle.

“I showed up at Tamanawis and I was one of the bigger kids. ‘You should give rugby a try,’ is what my first coaches, Mr. McCallum and Mr. McDonnell said to me. I had no idea what rugby was,” he said.

But the game stuck. At 16, he started to play club rugby for the Surrey Beavers.

“That’s where I really fell in love,” he said.

“Then I was being pushed into Japan Cup junior rep stuff. I thought, I’m not bad at this sport, let’s see what happens.

“I started to take it a bit more seriously, as best as I could. When I was about 18, I was playing first division for the Beavers pretty regularly.”

As a Sikh, Kalar is a rarity in men’s rugby in B.C. – though there are plenty who play in the high school ranks, he points out.

“If anything, I think it’s helped – it doesn’t hurt that I can play – I stick out, people remember you. ‘Hey you’re the brown guy with the beard,’ they say.”

With so many young players of South Asian descent playing, especially in Surrey, Kalar hopes he’s showing a path for them.

Kalar also points to the support of his parents.

“They had no idea what it was, but they know what it is now. My old man comes and watches now and then, he’ll be there this weekend,” he said. “My mom’s not a big fan of the contact sports, but she likes that I play.”

Rugby has taken him around the world, too. First there was a tour to Argentina with the Delta-based Brit Lions. Then there was a year spent playing Australian first grade rugby for the famed Brothers club in Brisbane.

“That’s where I first experienced a real culture of winning,” he said. “I surprised them, too; there was a cricket practice going on at a field behind us, I think they all thought ‘are you sure you’re at the right place?’ when I first showed up.”

But he showed his worth from the get-go. He started with the third grade team but was quickly brought up to the first team, once the club’s coaches realized that he was a tough-as-nails, highly physical forward. He’d learned to use his physical tools.

“It was huge, especially being Canadian, they don’t expect much from you,” he said.

He returned to B.C. and eventually made a move from the Surrey Beavers to Bayside, in pursuit of CDI Premier League rugby. He became a mainstay for the Sharks.

Adam Roberts, whose affiliations with Surrey rugby go back to his high school days in the late 90s, and is now a highly-regarded coach, got a call from the Dallas Reds, who were looking for players. Kalar put his hand up, and has now travelled to Texas twice, in 2012 and 2013, to play a few games for the club.

“The rugby’s not quite as good but the club is awesome, it’s great people,” he said. “I try and push people to go there.”

And then there’s been the rugby league experiment. The thirteen-a-side code is not that well known in Canada – B.C.’s competition is only three years old – but he’s already impressed enough to play for the Canadian Wolverines. He’s played for the national squad off and on since 2012.

As for this weekend’s big game?

“Should be alright, it’s pretty much the same as any other rugby weekend,” Kalar said calmly.

“It’s just a final.”

pjohnston@theprovince.com

Twitter: @risingaction


Tags: , , , , , , , ,





Featured

10336715_10152221434949315_4707600074607000802_n

Sikhs bring campaign against violence to Vancouver

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Sikhs from around the globe are bringing their efforts to “end the silence on violence” to Vancouver this weekend. U.K.-based organization…
Continue Reading »

attack on Parliament Hill

Ottawa shooter kicked out of Burnaby mosque two years ago

Zehaf-Bibeau was asked to leave the mosque, because he had “gotten a hold of keys and stuff from the mosque, and when he got out…
Continue Reading »

gambling-civic elections

Majority of Surrey mayoral candidates flat-out opposed to more casinos in the city

CHRISTOPHER POON SURREY NOW SURREY — Looking back at late 2012 and early 2013, the hot topic in Surrey was a controversial casino and entertainment…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

10336715_10152221434949315_4707600074607000802_n

Sikhs bring campaign against violence to Vancouver

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Sikhs from around the globe are bringing their efforts to “end the silence on violence” to Vancouver this weekend. U.K.-based organization…
Continue Reading »

attack on Parliament Hill

Ottawa shooter kicked out of Burnaby mosque two years ago

Zehaf-Bibeau was asked to leave the mosque, because he had “gotten a hold of keys and stuff from the mosque, and when he got out…
Continue Reading »

OTTAWA ATTACK-TERRORISM

Canadian Muslim groups denounce violence, brace for backlash following Ottawa rampage

ISHMAEL N. DARO CANADA.COM Representatives of major Canadian Muslim groups gathered in Ottawa today to reiterate their denunciation of terrorism in the name of Islam…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Stephen Harper

Stephen Harper: Attack by ‘terrorist’ on Parliament Hill won’t weaken Canada’s resolve

JOAN BRYDEN THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA – The gunman who staged a deadly attack Wednesday on Parliament Hill was a terrorist whose despicable crime will…
Continue Reading »

SURREY-FIELD HOCKEY

Barinder Rasode announces plan to develop field hockey pitch in Surrey

Third field at Tamanawis Park would cost approximately $3 million KYLE BENNING SURREY NOW NEWTON – Barinder Rasode and the One Surrey team were at…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver-Surrey-Festival-India

Diwali celebrations in Vancouver and Surrey

DiwaliFest celebrates its 11th anniversary from Oct. 17 to 26 at various sites in Surrey and Vancouver. Diwali Celebration Friday, Oct. 24 at Firehall Centre…
Continue Reading »

India-weird news

Rudaali: India’s professional ‘weeping women’ demand higher pay

CEN AGENCY Professional mourners who are hired to turn up at people’s funerals in India, beat their breasts and wail, are going on strike for…
Continue Reading »

Abbotsford

Jag Khosa: Families pay the ultimate price of gang wars

DET. JAG KHOSA SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI Late into the night, the parents of a young man struggled to sleep. The mother kept tossing and…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Salman Khan-Bollywood

Narendra Modi to attend Salman Khan’s sister Arpita Khan’s wedding?

HINDUSTAN TIMES If all goes as per plan, then Prime Minister Narendra Modi just might be attending the wedding of Salman Khan’s sister, Arpita Khan….
Continue Reading »

Bollywood kiss

Bollywood’s king of kisses Emraan Hashmi refuses to dance with the queen of sex Sunny Leone

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood’s serial kisser Emraan Hashmi has refused to share screen space with porn star-turned Bollywood-actress Sunny Leone, Indian tabloid Mid-Day reported. Hashmi, who…
Continue Reading »

Jackie Chan

First India-China joint venture film starring Jackie Chan launched

HINDUSTAN TIMES Chinese action star Jackie Chan will star in the first Sino-India joint film production slated to go on the floors in the coming…
Continue Reading »