The BYU Rugby Forever 'Interview of the Week' series continues with BYU Rugby Lock TJ Allred. With several changes occurring in the 2010 starting lineup due to injury, graduating seniors, and LDS missions, the return of the former U-19 Canadian National Team player has proven critical to the Cougars' success thus far. One of the fittest players on the team, Allred often arrives first at the breakdown while also exploiting opportunities to insert in the back-line.
In the BYU Rugby team's most recent win against highly-ranked San Diego State, Allred also stepped up and took a leadership role in line-out situations, an area of struggle for the BYU forwards this season. As a result, BYU produced more creative and deceptive line-outs than in any previous test, and not surprisingly, more control of the set piece. (Photos by Paul Meyers)
BYU Rugby Forever: What is it like coming back to the BYU Rugby team after serving a 2-year mission for the LDS Church? Where did you serve? How has that experience impacted your capacity to contribute to the BYU Rugby team?
TJ Allred: Being back on the team from my mission in Montreal, Quebec, wasn't too hard of a transition. I needed to get back into shape quickly and had a solid couple of months on my own before pre-season, so I ran like crazy. My mission helped me realize the importance of team work and brotherhood between players in order to help perform. I'm very grateful for that. It's been really fun playing with Ryan Roundy who returned from his mission at the same time. He played for USA while I was playing with Canada before attending BYU. I had heard his name tossed around, and now we're on the same team.
BYU Rugby Forever: As a starter at the unique position of lock, what kind of challenges and responsibilities do you face in your efforts to contribute to the team? Any specific areas in which you perceive a need for improvement, personally or as a team?
TJ Allred: I love the lock position. But I'd play winger if they let me. As long as I'm on the field I'm fine. Its always a challenge to give 100% at all times. Every game I play I analyze only what I did wrong. I'm a bit of a perfectionist. There is definitely a bit of rust in the line-outs this year. But our team is really getting the right attitude to fix it, and we've already improved immensely as shown in our game against Colorado.
Our coaches say that there is no other team in the nation with as much natural talent as ours. I believe it too. It's just a matter of working together to unleash that talent. We need to stay calm and just have more fun. We play better that way and it shows. It's up to us as a team collectively to not get down on each other and stay positive where it is needed.
BYU Rugby Forever: The 2010 season has many people talking about the BYU Rugby team's strength in the forwards. Do you feel that this talk is justified? Thoughts? Are you ready to meet the challenge of another National Championship playoff run?
TJ Allred: We definitely have an advantage in our scrumming. We have fitness and power in our front row, and our back 5 are fit enough to get around the field. I love playing with our forward pack. When we are united and positive with each other, I believe that we play well enough to justify the so called "talk" going around. Pressure is on this year though; we need to really commit ourselves on and, more specifically at this point, off the field if we want to keep our title.
BYU Rugby Forever: Coming from the Canadian rugby system, what adjustments have you made to integrate yourself into the American system and especially the BYU Rugby team? Any aspirations of pursuing higher-level rugby in the future?
TJ Allred: I definitely enjoyed the time I had on team Canada. But I was still in the process of developing as a rugby player. Coming to BYU has helped me become that, I believe. The coaches give their all into the program and it shows. More or less the only real adjustments I've had to make are the jokes made against Canada and coaches calling me "Canucky." My freshman year was a bit difficult. I came in half way through the season and didn't know anyone, and it was hard to develop chemistry with some of the players and the coaches at first. But coming off my mission has been much better. I guess everyone goes through that weird 'new kid' phase though.
I'd absolutely love to play at a higher level. If you have never thought or dreamed about it at least once, you probably shouldn't be playing rugby. If the cards are ever to fall right, I'd consider for sure.
BYU Rugby Forever: Thanks TJ; good luck and go Cougars!