Rugby is in Gavin Kratz’ blood. His dad is a rugby player, as are his grandfather and uncle.
But Kratz is making his own name in the sport, competing for the second year in a row with the BC Men’s U16 (BC1) team which lifted its fourth straight U16 national title earlier this month.
“The (coaches) just let us play. If we wanted to put it out to the backs, we put it out to the backs, if we wanted to hold it up in the forwards, we held it up in the forwards,” he said of the competition.
Kratz, who also plays for the Oak Bay High Barbarians, was the only Oak Bay player chosen for the BC1 team this year.
Other Oak Bay players, Callum Masterton, Carter White, Brayden Tate, Connor King and Brandon Shellenberger all made the BC2 team this year.
“They’re all really strong players,” he said.
Kratz has been playing the game since age seven and often tosses the ball around with his brother Lachlan, 14, who played for BC2 in the U14 division of the Festival.
“Both of the boys, their first word was ball,” said mom, Lisa Kratz.
The Kratz brothers both love the game. “I find it fun. It’s a great team sport, there are a lot of different body types – everybody can play,” said Gavin, who at 6’1” and 210 lbs. is a “bit of a bruiser” according to mom.
The competition was fierce at the national festival this year, he said, with BC2 providing a tough fight and host Alberta, which came in second overall, making a concerted effort.
“You can’t tell by the score, but it was a good game,” said Gavin.
“He puts in the hard work, is uncompromising, plays straight ahead game and that sets him apart,” said coach and Oak Bay High vice principal Murray Allen. “He has a huge competitive drive and expects a lot from himself. More from himself than from his teammates – it’s an unusual trait.”
Off the field, Gavin has set his sites on a different goal. For the second time since 2005, he is raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Tour de Rock and will shave his head for the cause as well.
He shaved his head for the first time at age seven, after hearing former Oak Bay police chief Ron Gaudet speak about the cause.
“I thought it would be a good thing to do. The money goes to young kids so they can go to Camp Goodtimes,” said Gavin. Funds raised also go toward research into a cure for childhood cancer.
“The Cops for Cancer campaign is run by the kids at the school,” said Allen. “It’s amazing every year. It’s the one thing at the school that is a unifying activity, sure the staff helps, but it is totally kid driven.”
Gavin will contribute to the car wash on Sept. 6 and the bottle drive on Sept. 20, as well as a community picnic scheduled for Sept. 28 at Willows Beach along with the head shave.
With the ongoing teacher’s strike, students may have to hold their fundraising events in the community instead of at the school. Read the Oak Bay News for a list of events as they are scheduled.