Former Canadian international Adam Kleeberger to coach new rugby generation

Kleeberger retired from elite rugby in the summer of 2015

Former Canadian international Adam Kleeberger, who won 38 caps for his country and drew worldwide attention as one of Canada’s “beardos,” is looking to help others follow his rugby footsteps.

The 34-year-old former flanker from White Rock, B.C., has been appointed lead development strength and conditioning coach at the Rugby Canada Academy.

Based out of Belmont High School near the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, B.C., Kleeberger is leading a high-performance program for up-and-coming high school athletes.

The first class includes nine girls and three boys aged 15 to 17-18 (grades 10 through 12), selected for the inaugural program through various talent identification sessions and provincial union recommendations. They will work with Kleeberger and other Rugby Canada high performance staff.

The participating athletes, who can take part in several sports, will attend classes at Belmont.

Kleeberger and his team work with the athletes in the morning, from 8 a.m. to around noon. Then they do their class work in the afternoons.

“The hope is that through this first year we’ll have built a bit of an understanding of how we can do things and improve for next year,” Kleeberger said in an interview. ”The program is open to anybody across the country.”

The first year, however, they opted to go with mostly local athletes to keep things simple at the beginning. He believes the program will grow, possibly to 20 next year.

Three of the girls are from outside B.C. and have received developmental carding to help defray out-of-province school costs. The program itself is free to those accepted.

It’s up to the national team coaches to decide where the carded girls play, likely with the developmental Maple Leafs side. Most of the others will play for school and club sides.

He hopes to take applications next year as well as recommendations, reviewing the talent available to open up the selection procedure.

Kleeberger retired from elite rugby in the summer of 2015. He played professionally for the Rotherham Titans and London Scottish in England and with Auckland in New Zealand.

Kleeberger, who has a degree in kinesiology, has most recently worked as strength and conditioning coach at the Canadian Sports Institute at the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence in Victoria where he has assisted rowing and mountain biking teams.

He is contracted to Rugby Canada to run its academy.

Kleeberger made the most of his skills but paid a price for his physical approach to the game and willingness to sacrifice for the cause.

At the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, he memorably hurled his body at 262-pound All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock in a bid to prevent the behemoth from crossing the try-line. The violent collision left both face down unconscious on the pitch. They finally got up but had to leave the game.

During his career, he had two shoulder reconstructions and suffered ongoing back pain from disc and nerve issues.

Kleeberger played in two Rugby World Cups and won notoriety as of Canada’s “beardos” at the 2011 tournament. Kleeberger and fellow forwards Hubert Buydens and Jebb Sinclair went into the tournament with mountain men beards, drawing attention from around the globe.

Rick Mercer shaved off Kleeberger’s beard after the tournament on TV to raise funds for cancer research and earthquake relief aid for Christchurch, New Zealand.

Kleeberger debuted for Canada in November 2005, against France in Nantes. He also represented his country at the under-19 and under-21 levels and played sevens for Canada at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

___

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

B.C. Family Day to move to third week in February next year

Premier John Horgan said the move is to better align the holiday with businesses and families

B.C. Health Minister announces plan for new hospital in Terrace

“This means more beds, a level three trauma centre, better surgery and better care,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

B.C. to increase minimum wage to $15.20/hour in 2021

Premier John Horgan says next increase will come in June

$2.5M project underway at BC Ferries terminal in Bella Coola

Construction has started in the $2.5M project to modify the berth at Bella Coola

Winter storm warning issued for the B.C. Interior

Upwards of 50 centimetres of snow could fall over the next two days

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. man brings dog to court as ‘best witness’

Man is defending himself on charges of uttering threats, possessing weapon for dangerous purposes

Vancouver artist’s cartoon of Florida school shooting resonates

Cartoon shows football coach, one of the victims, meeting others killed in school shootings

Trudeau family arrives in India for state visit

Seven-day visit includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Military seeks DNA experts to help ID missing war dead

Federal program recovers, identifies and arranges burials for Canada’s nearly 28,000 missing war dead

B.C. files new legal action against TransMountain pipeline

Province tries to uphold City of Burnaby bylaws, provoking Alberta

BCHL Today: Powell River stuns Vernon and BCHL grads lead Team Canada

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Reports of money laundering in B.C. real estate ‘troubling’: attorney general

News report alleges people connected to fentanyl trade are using B.C. real estate to launder money

Most Read