Summerside, P.E.I. -
Members of this province's Canada Games rugby team arrived in Prince Edward Island Friday night with heady dreams, and heavy hearts.
Hoping to strike gold or silver in what will be rugby's swan song in the Canada Games, a couple of players on the Newfoundland and Labrador team nonetheless had more than rugby on their minds over the weekend.
Their thoughts were back in Perry's Cove, where an 18-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy are being buried today following a horrific car accident Thursday evening.
The boy, Zachary Peter Rose, was a rugby player and just returned from the national under-16 tournament in Toronto the previous day. He and his sister, Sarah Ashley Rose, were killed when their car collided with an oncoming pickup truck on the highway between Heart's Desire and Heart's Content.
The Canada Games is an under-18 tournament, but many of the players in this squad played with Zach Rose last year. One Canada Games player, Alex Rogers, was a teammate of Rose's this year, but did not want to comment for this story.
"When I got the news Thursday night, I personally was devastated," said Bas Crosbie. "When I broke the news to the kids, I wouldn't say there were tears because men don't like to cry and I wouldn't want to embarrass them, but let's put it this way, they were very upset."
Crosbie coached Rose on the under-16 squad last week in Toronto and is in Summerside as a member of Pat Parfrey's Canada Games coaching staff.
According to Crosbie, the Rose family had returned home to Newfoundland after living a number of years in Ontario. It was in that province Zach Rose learned to play rugby.
After arriving in Newfoundland, Rose contacted the provincial rugby organization looking for a place to play, which might have surprised those within provincial rugby circles.
Tiny Perry's Cove, after all, is not exactly known for producing rugby players.
"He was a bit on the diminutive side," Crosbie said with a smile, "but he had a fantastic brain for rugby."
Saturday night, following the opening ceremonies, Crosbie and a group of players who had played with Rose last year met and shared a few memories.
"I wouldn't say we had a cry, but we had a heart to heart chat," he said. "We all miss his smile. He was an infectious kid.
"Some kids have indicated they would have liked to attend the funeral, but at the same time, they know Zach would have wanted us out here playing rugby.
"As much as we want to change what happened, we can't change it. So we have to continue on."
Crosbie and the rest of the Newfoundland Games coaching staff hope this crop of players bring the same approach to the game Zach Rose did throughout his all to brief rugby career.
With a pair of bronze medals in 1997 and 2001, Newfoundland is hoping to reach the gold-medal game here in Summerside.
"Zach played balls out 100 per cent of the time, and had the heart of a lion," Crosbie said bluntly. "I don't know how they managed to get a heart that big in such a small man."
Sunday, as Newfoundland prepared for its opening two games today against Ontario and British Columbia, Crosbie was busy arranging for something else - for some of Zach's rugby-playing buddies to act as pall bearers.
Prior to Newfoundland's first game against Ontario this morning, a moment of silence was planned for Zach Rose.
At 2 p.m. today, a funeral service will be held for siblings at Riverside United Church in Salmon Cove.