The Vanier Towhees girls rugby team is going international during the 2014-2015 season as the success of the program has begun to open doors for the team and its athletes.
Two of the team’s captains, Madi Gold and Lauren Sargent, were recently selected by the Dog River Howlers to participate in an international sevens tournament in Medellin, Colombia on Dec. 19-20.
The Howlers, a rugby program based out of Saskatchewan, is nationally recognized as a developmental program for rising rugby stars in Canada. Many of Canada’s current national men’s and women’s team players were part of the Dog River Howlers and it is hoped this strong tradition continues with these two young athletes.
Another aspect of the Howlers is their charitable work. After recently winning a national Fair Play Award, and being runner-up in the True Sport Give Back Challenge, the Howlers players going to Colombia have been gathering rugby gear, jerseys and money to donate to the community of Medellin as less fortunate players don’t have access to the resources of players up here in Canada.
Thanks to the generous donations of numerous rugby stakeholders in their community, Sargent and Gold will play the role of Santa this weekend in Colombia as they will provide a number of young rugby players with the means to continue to play the game.
Due to the developmental assistance she has received from the Dog River Howlers, and her appearances at the national championships over the past two summers, Gold has also gained the recognition of the Canadian national team and has been selected to train with the national senior women’s team next year at the Centre of Excellence in Langford.
As an amateur athlete, she will be provided with access to the best training facility that exists for rugby in Canada, with the possibility of becoming a nationally carded athlete. As there are only 25 carded female athletes with Rugby Canada, this is a prestigious honour.
The international flavour of the Vanier girls rugby program will continue in the spring as the team prepares for its first-ever tour to California. From March 29 to April 8 the team will play the three top-ranked teams in California. After winning a provincial AAA championship last year, the Towhees are eager to see how they measure up against some of the best teams in the U.S. in Fallbrook, Fullerton and the NorCal Selects.
With the addition of rugby sevens to the Olympics in Rio 2016, the funding of and interest in rugby in the USA has increased immensely and the top teams will be an excellent challenge for the Vanier team.
Unfortunately, the cost of travel to California has made the trip prohibitive for some athletes. The team has organized a movie night fundraiser where they will care for your children on Saturday, Dec. 20 from 5-9 p.m. while parents have the opportunity to get some last-minute Christmas shopping done. All costs are by donation. Please email any questions or RSVP to Steve Fagan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The team would also like to thank Coastal Community Credit Union and the Comox Valley branch of the Order of the Royal Purple for their generous donations towards supporting the team’s trip to California. Any other organizations interested in pursuing sponsorship of the team can contact coach Dwayne Mills at Dwayne.Mills@sd71.bc.ca.
– Vanier Towhees Rugby