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Saskatchewan Roughriders hold practice on grass in front of Parliament building

October 11, 2016 - 12:03 PM

It's not every day a CFL quarterback gets to call a play sending the prime minister downfield.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders held their workout Tuesday on the lush grass of Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise appearance at the session, speaking to the team, posing for pictures with a host of players. He even ran a pass pattern.

"I never imagined practising in front of Parliament," Riders slotback Rob Bagg said. "Even more, on top of that having the Prime Minister Mr. Trudeau come out and not only speak to us for a brief moment but also run a skinny post and try and catch a go ball.

"It just feels like you're getting to do something not many people do. I mean we're out here practising on a beautiful fall day in front of Parliament. When you sign up for the CFL it's not exactly what you have in mind so it was definitely a special moment . . . it was pretty cool."

Unfortunately, Trudeau wasn't able to make the catch but Bagg, a native of Kingston, Ont., and nine-year CFL veteran, wasn't holding that against him.

"He didn't quite make the play but it was a hell of an effort," Bagg said.

Bagg, 31, said practising on Parliament Hill and having the Prime Minister up close and personal was surreal for both the Riders' Canadian and American players.

"I think the Americans slowly figured out this is Canada and the Prime Minister just walked out to a casual group with a few of his security guards," Bagg said. "I don't think they see that sort of trust and just that casual atmosphere in the United States so I think it was pretty cool for them.

"As a Canadian I'm so proud of this country . . . . it was just awesome to walk up and shake the hand of the man who runs this country."

The Riders defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 32-30 on Friday night and opted to remain in the Canadian capital to prepare for their game Saturday night in Toronto against the Argonauts. Saskatchewan (4-10) has won three straight but is no longer in contention for the West Division playoffs.

However, the stop in Ontario has allowed Bagg to catch up with family and friends. And although the Riders will miss the post-season, the six-foot, 192-pound Bagg said the team still has plenty to play for over its final four regular-season games.

"There are many reasons, whether it's trying to play for a job next year or trying to be a part of this particular club going forward," said Bagg, who helped Saskatchewan win the 2013 Grey Cup. "It sucks right now but our journey towards trying to win the Grey Cup next year (in Ottawa) starts right now.

"Everybody has to understand that, buy into that. Those that perform and prepare will be a part of that crew going forward next year and those that don't probably won't."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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