Paul Treanor interviews Jack Cale
Jack Cale third from the right in white head gear.
Welcome back to Australia Jack firstly congratulations on being selected for the Australian Deaf Team. How did you got involved? Hey Paul, thanks very much. I was actually really lucky to be able to go on this tour because I was not aware of deaf rugby myself until the final trial that they had to select the team in around October/November 2022. I have to thank our very own Neil "Monster" Tyler who got in contact with me after he found out about it. He messaged me on a Saturday morning at 9:30am telling me that there was a trial to make the team starting at 10am in Hunters Hill, so I made my way down and must have done something right, as I was notified that I had made the team around 2 months later. What hearing loss do you have to have to qualify for deaf rugby? To be able to qualify for this tournament a player has to have an average of 40 decibels of hearing loss, which equates to roughly 25% of a person's hearing. My current hearing loss is right around this cut-off at 25%, but the trial and the teams that were selected contained men and women that had worse hearing loss than me, or were completely deaf and wore cochlear implants. In this deaf trial and in the subsequent games that we played in Argentina, there is little to no communication on the field, which I found very challenging.
Travelling overseas to represent your country must have been special? Yeah it was very special. I haven't travelled a lot in my life before this trip so being able to travel overseas was one thing, but then representing my country made it an unbelievable experience. It was also made all the more special, as both of my parents, Tim and Sue, made the trip with me, so having them there the entire time supporting not only myself, but everyone who was playing for Australia, was amazing.
What was your impression of Argentina and it’s place in the rugby community? It was a big cultural shock visiting the country as most of the country struggles with poverty, inflation and shops and restaurants were often very run down. However, the Argentinian people could not have been happier. Everywhere you went, they were always smiling and happy to help out, if you could get past the language barrier. Obviously, it is a very football-orientated country because of Lionel Messi and Maradona, but the Argentinian rugby team has been going very well recently. We would often walk down the street and be asked by passer-by's where we were from, to which we would reply "Australia. Rugby." Whilst we would often get lost in translation, everyone knew what rugby was and we would often be stopped to take photos in the streets. This was even more so during the tournament, where many Argentinians would turn up just to watch the games and we would be asked for photos and signatures after our games. So to the tournament explain to us how it worked and who you played in the lead up games? So the tournament was 7's. It had 2 pools of 4 countries each. In pool A were defending champions Wales, Fiji, Japan and a Barbarians team, which was made up of countries who did not have enough players for a full team, such as Hong Kong, combined with excess players from other countries, such as Argentina. In pool B was England, who were seeded number 2, us, South Africa and Argentina. How did you go in the pool stage? The first game was against South Africa. Not having played any games as a team showed against South Africa when they scored 2 tries in the first 2 minutes. However, all of the guys in our starting 7,had played a lot of rugby, so luckily we were able to get ourselves into the game and eventually beat them 22-12. We then played England, which we knew was going to be a big matchup as it would determine how good we were and we prevailed in an absolute grind of a match, 12-10. We then came up against the hosts, Argentina, and in what was a fiery and heated contest, we won 24-12. What about the Finals? Day 2 of the tournament was for the Quarter and Semi Finals. We were ranked as 1st in pool B and came up against the Barbarians side, who were 4th in pool A. We won this game pretty easily, finishing 45-0. We then played South Africa in the semi-final and thanks to a South African player headbutting a Welsh spectator (yes, spectator), they received a red card and we played the majority of the match with a 1 man advantage, finishing the game 24-5. We were off to the final! Making the final was an outstanding achievement for the side. It was an outstanding achievement for us, especially considering that apart from maybe 2-3 of the guys, the rest of us were basically strangers. Furthermore, not playing any games as a team before the tournament had started and only training together and we were able to make the final shows just how well we were able to sync with each other on the field. We played Wales who were also undefeated and knew it was going to be a hard game as their team is made up of mostly ex-military, meaning the majority of them were over 6 foot and weighed 100kg. In the end, we were just overpowered. They bashed us with and without the ball and ultimately, they just wanted it more. We made a few mistakes and they took their chances. The better team won on the day. Unfortunately, we lost the final 20-5. What was the highlight of the tournament for you? There were two key highlights for me. The first is that yes, we did make the final, but before the match kicked off, all the other teams were going to run Australia onto the field in a tunnel. Wales were the overwhelming favourites and everyone wanted them to lose, so when we emerged from the sheds to run onto the field, every member of every team that was still there on the day, made a tunnel for Australia. This consisted of Fiji, South Africa, England, Argentina, the Barbarians players and a smattering of others. So running out of a tunnel made up of different countries was really special and cool to see. The other key highlight was just being able to play. I scored a few tries and was the goal kicker for Australia so being able to say that I have scored tries and kicked goals for my country is unbelievable and something that not everyone gets to say.
The Australian side running out for the final. Jack is third out in white head gear. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us and congratulations on your achievements. Also congratulations to you and Sally Faehrmann for winning Australian players of the tournament.