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Quesnel cop tackles a medal in rugby

Judge represented local frontline responders at World Police & Fire Games

Frontline emergency response professions are physical and tactical. The combination is well suited to sports, and sports is also where camaraderie and inspiration come to life. The World Police & Fire Games (WPFG) is almost like an Olympic experience in that sense.

One member of the emergency response community in Quesnel was in a uniform of a different sort, suiting up in the rugby garb that made it all the way to the podium at this year’s recently completed WPFGs held in Winnipeg. RCMP Const. David Judge was on the rugby 7s team that won bronze.

“Our bronze medal match was up against the Hong Kong police force, and we had lost to them earlier in the tournament, so this was our chance for redemption and we came out on top,” said Judge.

“Attending the Games was a one of a kind experience, meeting first responders from all over the world. I spent a lot of time with some of the Australians and some of the Hong Kong players,” he added. “There is a lot of camaraderie during the Games, so after the bumping and tackling out on the pitch, there’s a lot of good spirits and hanging out between the players. I traded jerseys with the Hong Kong team, so I’ve got that Hong Kong police shirt and they have some 1697s gear.”

The 1697s team was so named for the two major B.C. highways that join in northern B.C. The team’s 12 players (seven at a time out on the pitch, instead of the full 15 of standard rugby) got together for practices in Prince George, not far from that junction, and was comprised of six firefighters and six police officers.

The team is made up of Judge, plus Kevin Côté, Danny Chan, Simon Crete, Kevin Freh, James Ness, Aiden Finlay, Anton Kolomiyets, Mike Menard, Karl Dagenais, Dallas Smith, Frazer McGaw, plus one other. The team’s founding member, Prince George firefighter Adam Gordon, was also in Winnipeg, but unable to play.

“When I met Adam in 2022 he told me that this team’s goal was to compete in the World Police-Fire Games so I said yeah, man, count me in,” Judge said. “He actually injured himself at a practice about two weeks before we flew out. It was really disappointing. But the silver lining is, we didn’t have a coach up until that point, so thankfully Adam really came out on top, it was so great to have him on the sidelines still pointing out what we needed to do.”

Judge was able to attend a lot of the practices in Prince George, and was stationed closer than some of the other members of the 1697s, but when he was back home he had to prepare on his own. Attempts have been made in the past to establish rugby in Quesnel, but it has yet to happen. He knew this, coming from Prince George where he has played rugby ever since high school. He was a member of the famed Gnats rugby team, whose closest opponents are the also lauded Williams Lake Rustlers.

Now there is talk of the Rustlers and the Gnats being possible opponents for the 1967s to help raise rugby awareness, maybe some charity money, and give these frontline responders some additional preparation for the next WPFG coming up in Birmingham, Alabama.

There is also a fundraising tournament for first responders held in the Lower Mainland in spring entirely as a charity event for Honour House, a home dedicated to emergency services and military personnel in need of accommodation during medical procedures. The 1697s plan to compete.

Judge knows a bit about that medical recovery, from firsthand experience. In a rugby game as a member of the Gnats, he broke his fibula. His healing barely finished in time, but he was able to deploy for RCMP depot as scheduled to commence his policing career in 2020.

His first posting was the Quesnel RCMP, exactly the one he asked for.

“I’m pretty happy to be in Quesnel, more than happy,” he said. “Quesnel has a lot of opportunities for community-based policing, you can make positive connections and affect positive change better than a lot of larger centres, and for policing experiences you get a little bit of everything, run some larger files, not like in a major policing centre where you often have to hand things off to specialty departments.”

It is also close to amazing fishing opportunities, and Judge said that if you don’t find him practicing for rugby, his off-time gets spent with a rod and a reel. He hopes to net himself another medal in 2025.

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