From wombmates to teammates

Zach and Christian Lakes played on the same rugby team in their Grade 12 year at King’s-Edgehill School in Windsor, N.S., where they grew up.

They won a championship together that year.

For the first time since they came to St. Thomas University in 2013, the identical twins played together on the Tommies men’s rugby squad for the 2016 season.

“It’s just like old times,” Christian said.

“Win or lose, it’s feels great to share a game with each other.”

Their appearance in Rugby New Brunswick Maritime University ‘A’ championship on Saturday might be the last time the 22-year-old twins play together, since this is their final year of their undergraduate degrees at STU.

The match was a hard-fought one that was won 42-17 by the University of New Brunswick Ironmen.

Zach and Christian haven’t just worn the same uniforms at STU and King’s-Edgehill. They also grew up playing both rugby and soccer together.

Zach, left, and Christian Lakes. Photo; Sherry Han/The AQ
Zach, left, and Christian Lakes. Photo; Sherry Han/The AQ

“This could be the last time we’re on a competitive team together,” Zach said, before admitting that he and Christian hadn’t thought much about that idea until their interview with The Aquinian last week.

Christian was born two hours before Zach on Aug. 10, 1994, in Halifax. They soon moved to Wolfville, an hour’s drive northwest of the Nova Scotia capital, with their family.

That’s where the twins spent most of their childhood.

Zach and Christian attended grade school in Windsor, 20 minutes southeast of Wolfville, where they also began their athletic careers.

Since they’ve been at STU, Zach and Christian are – on occasion – easy to confuse with one another, but their stature, looks and smiles make them hard to miss on the small liberal arts campus.

They both stand at six feet, two inches tall. Zach is 220 pounds, while Christian weighs in at 200.

“It shows on the field,” Christian said, jokingly, before both brothers explained the benefits of playing alongside someone with a similar body type but different position on the field.

Zach plays wing or fullback, while Christian is a forward.

“There’s always a level of competition, which is good because it makes you a better athlete overall,” said Zach.

Both young men also have blue eyes and smiles that light up a room, but they’re humble and easy-going.

Along with rugby and soccer growing up, Zach also competed in biathlon in high school, while Christian played basketball during the winter months.

Biathlon ended up being the reason Zach took a three-year hiatus from rugby after arriving at STU.

While Christian has played rugby every year he’s been at STU, Zach played for the men’s soccer team in the 2013 season before training in biathlon in second and third year ahead of the 2015 Canada Games in Prince George, B.C.

Looking back, Zach said he didn’t play rugby at STU in the beginning to lessen his chances of getting injured before preparing for the Canada Games.

After all, he did tear a ligament in his knee in Grade 12, so his concerns about his well-being were valid.

“I probably would have played rugby in first year if I didn’t have that biathlon commitment,” he said.

Initially, Zach said, he was worried about whether his transition back into rugby would be a smooth one where he hadn’t played in three years.

“Once I got playing, it all came to back to me, and it wasn’t a problem at all,” he said.

Although the level of competition is higher in university rugby than it is in lower levels, Zach and Christian said the camaraderie between them and their teammates remains the same.

Not only do Zach and Christian share a special connection that tends to come naturally with twins, but the same bond that exists on the sports field is clear when the twins are side-by-side in other settings.

Previously, Zach and Christian were mostly inseparable. They grew up playing sports with one another, and they lived together in Harrington Hall in first year and off campus in their second and third years.

They don’t live under the same roof anymore, though. Zach lives on Charlotte Street, while Christian resides close by on George Street.

“With identical twins, it’s good to have that bond, but you’ve got to have separation as well,” Zach said.

Christian then added that he and Zach are each at different stages of their lives, but they have stayed close in their relationship.

“That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Zach said with a chuckle.

Looking towards the future, the twins aren’t ruling out another season in the green and gold next fall.

Zach’s major is psychology, and his minor is science and technology studies, while Christian is pursuing a double-major is history and science and technology studies.

Zach is considering applying to get an education or social work degree, while Christian is leaning towards studying education next year.

“[A degree in] education can lead to many more things than just being a teacher,” Christian said.

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