Bishop’s rugby player balances family dynamics in sophomore season

By Michael Boriero - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Bishop’s rugby player balances family dynamics in sophomore season
(Photo : Michael Boriero)

When Tate Robinson visited Bishop’s University two years ago, she instantly fell in love with the school’s sprawling campus and overtly friendly atmosphere. It made moving from her hometown of Victoria, British Columbia to Lennoxville, Quebec an easy decision.
“I just love it so much, the community is, the sports community is really good, but overall the Bishop’s community we’re so tight knit, like I know most people within the whole off-campus housing,” Robinson said.
It also helped that the university boasts a reputable music program. She is currently in her second year at Bishop’s studying music as a voice major. And as an added incentive, Robinson, a highly touted rugby player, was recruited to join the Gaiters women’s rugby team.
Robinson made a name for herself at St. Michaels University School in Victoria. She caught the eye of Gaiters’ women’s head coach Tom Whyld at a national tournament in Hamilton, Ontario. But little did Whyld know Robinson was already leaning towards enrolling at Bishop’s.
“I didn’t even expect to play rugby at university […] I can get my academics, but I also have the balance of athletics, which is really something you don’t think you need but it really helps to have the best experience, for me,” she said.
However, what the 19-year-old sophomore didn’t expect when she chose to join the Gaiters community was that she would also be bringing her father, an experienced rugby coach, across the country, too.
A former Canadian national men’s and women’s rugby team coach, Spencer Robinson was also recruited by Whyld to join the Bishop’s family. His extensive knowledge of the sport made it difficult for the university’s rugby leadership to pass up on.
“They literally pulled me into this room and said ‘hey, what does it look like next year, can you come out’ and I said ‘well, actually, yes I can’,” he explained, sitting in his office at the Bishop’s sports facility.
Spencer and Whyld got to know each more at the 2019 Summer Universiade in Naples, Italy. He officially joined both the men’s and women’s teams’ coaching staff this year, signing on for a specialized role as head of rugby development.
With COVID-19 interrupting normal life, his first season with Bishop’s hasn’t gone according to plan. But Spencer said it also allowed the rugby program to expand on areas that needed improvement, like ball handling, positioning, communication and defensive alignment.
“It’s sometimes an opportunity you don’t get when the season is on and you’ve got to think about preparing for the next game,” he said. “Now you’ve got a big window to go ‘ok, where do we usually struggle,’ so it’s been a pretty good opportunity to dig into those things.”
Spencer, a 55-year-old firefighter and captain out of Victoria, took a few months off work to join Bishop’s on the field this year. He has always been dedicated to growing rugby, travelling around the world and coaching various teams.
For full story and others, subscribe now.

Share this article