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Andre and Jacques Borgeaud. Photo by Megan Lacelle.

Jacques and Andre Borgeaud share a laugh as they reminisce about their first flight into Regina.

“We’d never heard of [Regina], didn’t know what Saskatchewan was,” older brother Andre laughs.


“I remember coming in on the plane,” Jacques says, “We were flying in and I’m looking out the window and I couldn’t see anything – just farmland. I thought ‘where is this place?’.”


That place was more than 13,000 kms from their home in Australia.


The brothers came to the University of Regina in 2011 to play for the Cougars volleyball team. Offside hitter Andre stands 6’ 2” while younger brother Jacques is a libero, measuring 5’9”. Now, four years later, Jacques holds the U of R career record for digs with 712, with an average of 2.58 digs per set, while Andre is tied for service aces with 42 along with 420 career kills with the Cougars.


Growing up the Borgeauds were often on opposite sides of the net – Andre playing for the Canberra Heat and Jacques with the Australian Institute of Sport.


“I could always hear him yelling at me from the other side of the net,” Andre laughs. It wasn’t until 2010 when Andre was 24 and Jacques was 19 that they decided to try to play in Canada.


Andre e-mailed all the coaches in Canada West hoping to find a spot for both him and Jacques. They finally settled on Regina.


“It was just the best fit educationally, coaching and program-wise,” he said. However, they didn’t know what to expect when they arrived – quickly being introduced to -40 temperatures and flat landscapes.


“Once we got in though the people were so nice and went out of their way to help us settle in and four years later it’s the same thing,” says Jacques. “First impressions were great of the people and it’s really what’s kept this place special for us.”


Both brothers are in their fourth year at the U of R; Jacques studying Kinesiology and Andre in Education.


“Being a full-time student, playing a full-time sport and then still having to work on the side – it’s a lot of time management and financial stress to go along with school and playing stress,” Jacques said. They both work at the university in their minimal spare time.


Head coach of the Cougars, Greg Barthel, says the pair spend a lot of time together, one of the main reasons they chose Regina.


“They could have gone to other schools in Canada, but they wanted to stick together,” he said. “They’ve definitely become leaders on the team in the past four years.”


He says Andre’s age, 28, and wealth of experience gives him a different perspective on court, while younger brother Jacques, 23, lets his actions speak louder than his words.


“We’re not big talkers on the court,” Jacques says, “we like to lead more by example.”


That was something he relied on when they moved to Canada.


“He’s obviously five years older than I am, so he’s done more schooling and gone to different areas so he matured a little bit. So it was great for me to come here with him and learn to live by myself,” Jacques said.


The pair has one season of eligibility left with the Cougars. Jacques has played 276 sets with the team while Andre has played 275, marking them in 8th and 9th place for most sets played in Cougar history.


After graduation Jacques and Andre both plan on returning to Australia; Jacques in pursuit of his Master’s in physiotherapy and Andre to repay a debt to his girlfriend.


“She’s been pretty supportive of me being here, but once I get back I have to pay that back,” he chuckles. Although they miss being away from friends and family, the Borgeaud’s experience in Saskatchewan is something they wouldn’t change.


“This is a dream for people back home because you get to do the thing you love – play the sport you love and do your studies at the same time,” Jacques said. “Sometimes people do it professionally and when they’re done they realize they have to go back to school, but we got to do both and live the dream.”