Cowichan product Ciaran Breen has signed with the MLR’s Toronto Arrows. (Courtesy of Ciaran Breen)

Cowichan product Ciaran Breen has signed with the MLR’s Toronto Arrows. (Courtesy of Ciaran Breen)

Cowichan’s Breen signs pro rugby deal with Toronto Arrows

Breen went to France to play at Biarritz Olympique’s academy in 2019

Mill Bay product Ciaran Breen, 21, has signed a professional contract to play rugby for Major League Rugby’s Toronto Arrows in 2023.

After developing his craft in Cowichan, Breen went to France to play at Biarritz Olympique’s academy in 2019.

The Shawnigan Lake School graduate left the Cowichan Rugby Club in 2019 to play a season for France’s Biarritz Olympic Pays Basque. He then came home to Canada and suited up with the UBC Thunderbirds for the 2020-2021 season before returning to France to play centre for US Carcassonne.

“Going back overseas is still very much an option, and I have no doubt that I will head back over in the years to come,” Breen noted. “The best part of rugby is being able to travel and live in new cities, and to be fair I feel like I really haven’t seen much of Canada. That’s why when the opportunity to live in the east came up it felt like something I needed to do.”

Over the 2022 summer months, the 200-pound, six-foot-tall fullback suited up with Canada’s rugby sevens squad at both the Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Championships.

The team placed sixth of 16 teams at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England in late July. It wasn’t what he’d hoped for, though, as his on-field experience was stymied by a concussion in Canada’s second game of the tournament.

In September, Canada played to a 13th place result at the Worlds in South Africa.

“Signing with Toronto definitely will put playing sevens on pause for a while, but I hope to play again down the road as well,” he said. “My eyes are on a potential Olympic Games in the future.”

Following his summer with the national team, Breen has settled in Langford to play with the Pacific Pride, Rugby Canada’s national development academy program.

“Ciaran is a dynamic back that will really give us some pace and options,” said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows chief operating officer and general manager. “He was very good in France and has been outstanding in B.C. this fall, and we are excited to add him to our roster.”

Breen is excited to be there, too.

“I’m really excited to join the Arrows and to play professionally in Canada,” said Breen. “From all the guys on the team that I’ve spoken with about signing here and gearing up for 2023, there’s a lot of confidence in the way this team is headed. I can’t wait to see where we can go.

“There are so many great professionals on the Arrows that have played at the highest levels and possess a wealth of knowledge, and I’m really looking forward to coming in and learning from some of the best. I plan on diving in, being completely hands-on, and giving everything I can to help this team win a championship.”

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