D’Shawn Bowen’s first start in Major League Rugby meant more than just playing in the Toronto Arrows’ home opener.
It meant more than playing well enough to score three tries in the team’s hard-fought 29-27 loss to the New York Ironworkers, last Saturday at York Lions Stadium.
The winger had spent the last two years travelling as part of Rugby Canada’s Sevens program, and hadn’t played in his hometown for quite some time.
“Just playing in front of my family after being away for such a long time,” said the 26-year-old, afterwards. “And then being able to perform as I did, it’s just an amazing feeling.”
He scored twice in the first half, with his second try coming off a whirlwind run that would tie the game up at 17-17.
When he capped off his hat trick early in the second half, the MLR rookie began running down the sideline jumping and celebrating with a crowd filled with his friends and family. His emotions were so high at the moment, he had trouble describing them later.
“Honestly it’s unbelievable,” said Bowen after his second appearance with the Arrows. “I can’t even put it into words.”
Despite his heroics, Toronto is now 1-6 and tied with the Chicago Jackals for the worst record in the league. However, Bowen’s performance did help secure a bonus point in the loss, putting them at eight points on the season and two ahead of Chicago.
The rookie’s ability to find the try line will be a welcomed addition for the injury-ravaged Arrows. Toronto has lost 14 players to injury thus far, and have put up the second-fewest points in the league this season as a result.
Saturday was no different as the team’s vice-captain and top point-scorer, Sam Malcolm, left the game after a mid-air collision late in the second half.
With nine games remaining, Bowen does have faith that the team can turn things around.
“I think all the boys, including myself, played with a lot of heart,” he said. “We have the skills to play with anyone and we just have to close and finish.”
The Arrows host the New England Free Jacks on April 15 at 6 p.m.