TORONTO — At 42. Noah Cantor, who is competing for the second time on Canada’s rugby team in the upcoming Maccabiah Games, thinks he’s in a better position than he was four years ago.
At 6 feet, 4 inches and 220 pounds, he says he’s as fit as he was in 2009, but he’s had a lot more practice.
“I feel much more comfortable about the game,” said Cantor, who was a defensive lineman in the Canadian Football League from 1995 to 2006.
He now lives in Vancouver, where he runs Vera’s Burger Shack, his chain of 17 hamburger restaurants (there’s also one in Ottawa).
He joined the team in 2009, he said, “because they were looking for a big guy. I hadn’t played since I was in university, but it was hard to say no.”
He played forward in the second row that year, when the team won one game, and lost three.
“We didn’t do as well as we wanted, but we played hard and good. Only about seven of us – there are 21 players on a team – are returning. I’m the second-oldest on the team. I feel strong, but I am 42.”
In two stints with the Toronto Argos and one with the B.C. Lions, he won four Grey Cups and was named a CFL all-star in 2004.
“Rugby is a different game than football, but it is similar in that players have to be strong, in shape and be able to play a game with physical contact.”
Speaking to The CJN a couple of days before the team’s first practice in Toronto, he said that “we’re going to have a crash course playing together, and then fly off. Everyone plays in their respective cities, so they know their own areas.”
To prepare for the games, Cantor, who is married with three children, said he played on a Vancouver team, ran and worked out.
“I spend my free time sleeping. My kids grew up with me playing football, so they understand how much I love playing sports.”
He’s excited to get to Israel, he said.
“Before 2009, I had only been there when I was 16, so it was like a new country to me. I’m sure there are lots of changes since 2009 as well.”
The next print edition of The CJN is Aug. 1.