How does one go about replacing a legend?
The answer is obvious: You don’t. But Rock tight-head prop Bob Rogers finds himself in that position after taking over from veteran Rod Snow, who retired this season after a stellar amateur and professional career.
“I was a little bit shocked at first that Rod was actually retiring,” said Rogers, who’ll be in the Rock’s starting lineup for a crucial Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) league game today at against the visiting Prairie Wolf Pack (see story, page B3).
“But I was pretty happy I was the replacement. It made me feel pretty good about myself.
“It’s pretty big shoes to fill, though.”
Indeed. Snow has been capped 62 times playing for Canada. He appeared in four successive Rugby World Cups and played professionally in South Africa and Wales for over 10 years.
Rogers said he felt a little bit of pressure in The Rock’s first game of the Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) league last weekend against Ontario.
“I was pretty nervous, but I was happy with the way I played,” he said. “There’s still pressure to consistently perform and try to live up to Rod’s standard.
“It’s going to take a lot of time to reach that standard.”
Rogers started playing on a regular basis at the under-16 level with Prince of Wales Collegiate and with the Dogs RFC in Mount Pearl under coach Simon Blanks, now head coach of The Rock seniors.
Rogers said Blanks showed confidence in him at an early age which, “definitely helped.”
He said Blanks told him to play his game and not to worry about the style of other players.
“I’m not a running prop like Rod,” said Rogers. “I hit a lot of rucks and tend to be involved in breakdown more.”
Rogers played hockey and baseball and a little basketball growing up, but when he answered an ad in The Telegram for Dogs rugby, he said the attraction to the game was immediate.
“I was 13 and I’d never seen a game before, but I heard about it. I played a couple of different positions, but when Simon saw how broad my dad was, he figured I was best fitted to play prop,” said the five-foot-10, 240-pounder.
Rogers has impressed early in his rugby career.
He played as tight-head prop in the 2009 Canada Games, helping the team win a bronze medal on the under-18 team. He also played on the U-20 Newfoundland team that won a national championship in 2010.
Rogers said beating British Columbia in the final at the age group was, “like breaking down a wall. We’ve had some success against teams from Ontario at the under-18 and under-20 age-group level the past few seasons. They don’t intimidate us like they may have several years ago.”
He was on the Canadian U-20 squad last year, but suffered a bad ankle injury just before the team departed for its world tournament in the Republic of Georgia.
Coach Blanks was more than pleased with Rogers’ performance last weekend against powerhouse Ontario Blues in the CRC league opener for the Atlantic province’s representatives.
“That’s a big void to fill, replacing a world-class player with a 21 year-old,” noted Blanks about Rogers taking over from Snow.
“We were concerned he’d be under pressure.
“We knew he’s definitely a player for the future. As it turned out, he gave every bit as good as he got. He was outstanding in filling those enormous boots.”
Rock director of rugby and assistant coach Pat Parfrey calls Rogers, “Newfoundland tough.”
He says Rogers is, “a sticky competitor who won’t give up when the pressure comes on, and has the strength of character to replace an icon by depending upon his own different skill set.
“He has worked diligently on the weights and his ambition was to replace Rod when Rod retired, although I don’t think Bob thought Rod would retire this season.
“In any event, we had planned to introduce Bob to CRC rugby this year, and now he will get more experience than we had anticipated.”
As far as his future in the game is concerned, Rogers said he’d like to make Canada’s team for the 2015 World Cup of Rugby in England.
“That’s the plan,” said the fourth-year Memorial University biology student.