Girl rugby players from the North Island had the chance of a lifetime this past weekend, taking part in the IRB’s America’s Rugby Championship festivities.
The ARCs have taken place in Langford, B.C. for the last three years at the Westhills Stadium (home of the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence) and sees teams from the USA, Uruguay and Argentina take on our Canadian senior men’s team.
Three U14 aged girls from the Comox Valley and three from Campbell River took part in a clinic put on by Rugby Canada on Saturday. The girls were instructed by women’s national team member Barbara Mervin.
Focusing on skill development and support for each other, our girls were left with a sense of camaraderie with the other participants whom they will likely meet again and again as they continue with the sport.
Mervin drove home the point, telling the girls that no matter what happened on the field or how hard you hit each other you are all rugby girls and that’s what is important. You always have each other’s back.
This sense of teamwork and community is commonplace in the sport of rugby, and the kids in our Kickers Minis Program experience this from the very beginning. Our Minis take part in jamborees up and down the Island, and meet the same faces each time, from event to event, and across seasons. The friendships developed are the cornerstone of the culture.
Being able to solidify these connections at events like the one held this past weekend is one way we try and pass on not only the sport itself, but the things about it that happen off the field and make it a lifestyle that stays with you throughout your rugby playing career and beyond.
These players were afforded more than that this weekend. The U14 girls (Maren Carter, Jade Froelich and Aubree Mallette of the Comox Valley and Kenzie Braden, Megan Gonsky, and Jenna Beauregard of Campbell River, led by coaches Georgia Bellamy and Lindsay Mallette) were able to meet with, and collect autographs of, the national men’s team after watching captain-led training known as a ‘Captain’s Run’.
Seeing this calibre of players up close, and watching them in action the next day, really injected enthusiasm into the girls’ love of the sport. They were able to take in the final games of The America’s Rugby Championship Tournament. USA battled Uruguay and came out on top 30-5 and cinched second place while Uruguay finished fourth. Canada fell 39-9 to the returning tournament champions. Argentina took home gold, and Canada finished third overall.
After this weekend full of rugby for these North Island kids, we will continue to look forward to watching these talented ladies grow as rugby players, and perhaps one day representing the North Island, B.C. or Canada in the sport they are learning to love.
– Comox Valley