Mill Bay’s Will McDougall-Percillier trains with French pro rugby club Stade Français in Paris. (Submitted)

Vancouver Islander named Rugby Canada’s top young player

Mill Bay’s Will McDougall-Percillier “really stoked about getting this award”

Mill Bay’s Will McDougall-Percillier received one of Rugby Canada’s top annual honours last week when he was named Young Male Player of the Year for 2019.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s awards were presented digitally on Facebook instead of in person, but that didn’t take away from McDougall-Percillier’s enthusiasm.

“I’m really stoked about getting this award,” he told Duncan-born Canadian rugby legend Gareth Rees, who served as host of the online ceremonies.

McDougall-Percillier spoke with Rees from Paris, France, where he is in preseason training with Stade Français for the upcoming Top 14 professional rugby season.

Signing his first pro contract was just the tip of the iceberg for McDougall-Percillier in 2019. He captained the national U20 team, helping Canada qualify for the Junior World Trophy tournament in Brazil by beating the U.S. in back-to-back games at Shawnigan Lake School last June, then led the entire JWT tournament in scoring with 65 points in four matches.

McDougall-Percillier also earned his first caps with the senior national team, appearing in three matches for Canada during the 2019 Americas Rugby Championship.

After wrapping up a two-year stint with the UBC Thunderbirds, which included national titles in 2017 and 2018, McDougall-Percillier inked his first pro deal, a three-year commitment to Stade Français.

“It’s been really busy, but I think when you’re a rugby player, that’s what you want,” McDougall-Percillier told Rees. “You want to be playing as much rugby as possible.”

Born in France, McDougall-Percillier grew up in Hong Kong and Singapore before moving to Mill Bay, where he played for the Cowichan Piggies and Brentwood College School.

He acknowledged his roots during his conversation with Rees, specifically pointing out Brentwood senior boys head coach Shane Thompson and head of school Bud Patel for their mentorship.

“I think a player is just as good as his surroundings and his coaching throughout the years. Huge shoutout to Cowichan and Brentwood.”

McDougall-Percillier also praised the efforts of Rugby Canada and the coaches for the Junior World Tournament team for making Canada a contender in Brazil.

“It was a monumental effort there to make the whole program professional, and if you ask me, they did a really good job,” he said. “Sometimes I thought they were going a bit hard, but when you want the results like we got in the end, two victories, it pays off.”

Now, McDougall-Percillier is pursuing a unique career as one of just four Canadians in France’s Top 14 pro rugby circuit, and he wants to represent his country as best he can.

“I think every foreigner will tell you there’s definitely a little bit of weight on your shoulders when you come from abroad,” he said. “There’s something that’s expected; there’s a reason you were brought from somewhere else and hopefully you have an edge on some of the local players. I feel that there’s something extra, like a little more spice, but I think I’ve handled it well, and it’s another reason to go after it.”

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