Rugby star recovering from injury in Sun Peaks

Cameron Pierce competing with his team prior to an injury forcing him into a 19 month recovery. Photo supplied.

Cameron Pierce strikes an imposing presence at six feet seven inches. It’s not difficult to picture him on the pitch as one of Canada’s top rugby players.

He played rugby internationally for six years but stepped back from the sport following a string of concussions, during which time Sun Peaks has provided a good retreat.

Pierce has remained busy off the field, even in recovery mode, currently coaching the Kelowna men’s rugby team. “Coaching has become a bit of a passion,” Pierce said. “It’s a good way to stay in the game without [getting injured].”

Inspired by his own negative experience of “pushing through headaches” to stay in the game, Pierce has also helped establish a non-profit organization called the Rugby Safety Network (RSN), which aims to heighten awareness among rugby players about concussions and head injuries in the sport. Recently he’s worked with RSN and their partner, Headcheck Health, to “set up some things with BC provincial teams around tighter concussion rules and baselines and proper testing [for players].”

Having already experienced a serious neck injury and multiple concussions, it was a particularly bad “head knock” in October 2016 that sent the 26-year-old into recovery for 19 months.

“It’s been a hard pill to swallow,” Pierce lamented about the break from rugby, but he said support from close friends and family has made it easier. The recovery time has also allowed him more time with family in B.C. – and Sun Peaks.

Pierce alongside Nancy Greene Raine and wife Paris. Photo supplied.

It was Pierce’s Kamloops-born wife, Paris – who he met in the Czech Republic – that first introduced him to the village. “Her family has had a place up there since it was Mt. Tod.”

“Every time we get back to her neck of the woods, we always make the effort to spend as much as time as we can up at Sun Peaks,” he enthused. “It’s such a hidden gem.”

“I like snowboarding, though it’s different now because I have my limitations and I go very easy. I love playing hockey as well … and I really enjoy the golf course,” Pierce said.

“We liked it so much we got married up there [last summer],” he added.

Born and raised in Vernon, Pierce got interested in into rugby in high school and quickly excelled in the sport. He played for B.C. and Canada before the age of 20 and scored a contract with the prestigious ASM Clermont Auvergne Academy in France in 2011.

Pierce was promoted through the French leagues, eventually reaching the ‘Top 14’ premier league with Pau in 2015, which allowed him to play at a higher level than the Canadian national level.

“Canada is not like other [rugby playing] countries. There are no [full-time] professional contracts,” he said.

Pierce is still officially under contract in France until 2018, but beyond that, anything is possible.

“We’ve been looking into real estate in Sun Peaks. We’re definitely interested in investing up there.”

Meanwhile, regarding his future career, he muses: “Between my neck and my head, time to pick a more subtle profession,” he said with a laugh.  “What I want to do, I actually want to be a firefighter”.

Perhaps not the most “subtle” pick, but not a bad fallback for someone six feet seven inches.