Together Again Series: Nathan Hirayama
June 3rd, 2020
The Together Again series is an opportunity to share stories from British Columbians who have a strong connection to BC Place - and the events that bring it to life. We hope this series inspires you to reflect on your own memories at the stadium and look forward to the day when we can be Together Again under one roof!
This week we talk to Nathan Hirayama from Rugby Canada.
You grew up in the Lower Mainland and have spent a lot of time at BC Place. What are some of your favourite memories at the stadium?
"There are so many. Some of my favourite memories are from even before I started competing there. I remember visiting the stadium as a kid watching the Lions play and then the Whitecaps over the years. I remember playing football and soccer during half time on the old turf. Obviously, playing there now is amazing. The Canada Sevens organizers have done an incredible job putting the event on. Initially, I remember we didn’t know what the weekend would be like or if people would get on board. For the guys who had been playing for a while, we knew what Sevens was like and how great the tournaments can be, but going into that first year  at the stadium we didn’t know what it would be like. We thought it would be cool and we were excited to play at BC Place but it exceeded any expectations we had. That first year we won the bowl in kind of a dramatic fashion and to see how everyone got on board was amazing. It’s something I look forward to competing in every year."
As a kid playing rugby, did you ever imagine that you would be playing at BC Place someday?
"When I first started out, the idea of there being a tournament in Canada was a dream at that point. For it to be what it’s turned into today is amazing and hopefully we can keep it going. I couldn’t have even fathomed it and for it to be as good as it is? It’s amazing."
Can you describe the experience of playing in front of a hometown crowd?
"It’s amazing. I believe home field advantage is a real thing in sports with the crowd lifting you, giving you that momentum. The dome aspect of BC Place is unique for us as players because it’s so loud. I think it’s the loudest stop on the series. From the stands to the concourse, everyone is having a good time and enjoying themselves. It’s an amazing feeling running out onto that pitch in the stadium; seeing everyone on their feet, wearing red with their signs out and you know your friends and family are there. It’s indescribable.
This year especially the crowd helped us carry momentum through the weekend. The singing of ‘Oh, Canada’ at half time was something I’ve never seen before, but that could be a new tradition for us. It was amazing. Shout-out to whoever they put the microphone in front of during that first game against France who started doing that because that was really special for us."
Do you have a favourite costume you've seen at Canada Sevens?
"There have been so many good costumes at the Sevens. I think this year the ones that really stood out for me were the Sasquatches, those guys that were down in the corner. They were awesome and they’re actually friends of the team which is really cool. I like when groups of people get dressed up, like that time when everyone was wearing those super realistic baby heads, those were funny. I love the commitment people have to it. I love seeing the Canadian tuxedos, or even if you just wear red, it’s a great environment to watch rugby and have fun. We take a lot of pride in knowing people enjoy themselves at the tournament."
Rugby is a sport that recognizes the importance of community on and off the pitch. Tell us about your involvement with that?
"The Canada Sevens organizers have done a fantastic job with the outreach programs here in the Lower Mainland. It’s something that World Rugby really puts an emphasis on throughout the entire series. It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, we do some sort of outreach. We’re doing coaching or visiting schools or hospitals, things like that. That’s a really important part of the Series and for rugby in general. We want to give back and attract people to the game. It’s something we hope to continue to do and hope to have a great impact on Canadians and people around the world."
What message do you have for the fans right now?
"I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported the Canada Sevens tournament and everyone who comes out and cheers. We’re all thinking of you and all in this together. Stay positive and we will get through this.
I can’t wait to compete on the Series again and hopefully we’ll be able to make more memories soon like we did in Vancouver."