Bobsledder, retired CFL’er Jesse Lumsden to test for Rugby Sevens
Two-time Olympic bobsledder and former CFL’er Jesse Lumsden has begun physical training and testing this week with Canada’s Rugby Sevens program.
At both Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014, the 32 year-old was a power pusher in two-man and four-man sleds. Lumsden is the first higher profile athlete attached to Rugby Canada’s ‘Try4Gold’ program which is attempting to pad the sevens roster in time for Rio, where the event will debut.
If he can pull it off, it’ll be the second successful crossover for the 6’2, 226 lb athlete. He played four seasons with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, as well as stints with the Edmonton Eskimos and Calgary Stampeders before switching full-time to bobsleigh in 2011. While Lumsden is certainly a versatile athlete, he’ll have to pick up rugby skills quickly to challenge for a sevens roster spot. For example, 2014 ‘Dream Team’ honourees John Moonlight and Phil Mack make up an improving team. Canada is preparing up for the first leg of the the IRB Sevens World Series in Australia next month.
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Rugby Canada is searching for ‘powerful and agile athletes’ to try Rugby Sevens, according to Sandro Fiorino, an assistant for the women’s team. He also pegged basketball, hockey and football as having potential stars. The organization seems eager to increase depth, the National Sevens Development Program is holding talent identification events across Canada aimed at athletes 15 and over.
It’s not the first time bobsleigh and rugby have traded talent. Two-time Olympic bobsleigh champion Heather Moyse has played rugby internationally for Canada. She has played both sevens and rugby union, the latter of which was the form of the sport’s most recent appearance at the Olympic Games in 1924.
USA Rugby has also looked to other sports for stars. Former American sprinter Carlin Isles has taken his 10.13 100m speed and applied it to the rugby field, with success for USA’s Eagles Sevens.