First time for everything
Nationals has come and gone for the Cougars rugby teams this year. For the men, it was obviously a more organized trip compared to last year’s considering they actually had a full roster this go around.
The women were in their rookie year as a team, and the tournament was an opportunity to showcase what they had to offer.
Taylor Hawkins, team captain of the U of R women’s squad, was extremely grateful just for the chance to attend this year’s University Seven National competition held in Langford, B.C.
Even though they did not win a single game, but they did gain a wealth of experience against top-level competition.
Unfortunately the Cougars women’s team suffered several injuries. In fact, over half of the women’s squad suffered damage while competing over two days.
“We got hit but the injury train [during Nationals], which doesn’t happen often … [and] is just unfortunate luck,” Hawkins said. “I’ve been playing for eight years and never seriously been injured.”
A broken nose, knee injuries, sprained ankles, a sprained back, and a concussion insured the women’s athletes were making regular trips to the medical tent – most of the doctors new that players by name by the end of the tournament.
“We had five healthy players at the end, and you need seven to even play,” Hawkins said with a laugh.
“We expected it to be tough, and there were games we could have pulled out for sure” Hawkins said. “We are just going to keep practicing now that the [university] season is over and just stay with it and work hard.”
This being the women’s first year, they had to prove themselves as a valuable addition to U of R’s varsity club teams. And, although their records may not show it, the team had a spectacular year. Their time in Vegas at the USA Invitational Rugby 7’s Tournament in February, and then just recently the university Nationals were both great opportunities to make people aware on campus of what they are doing as a team and show that they take the sport very seriously.
“We expected it to be tough, and there were games we could have pulled out for sure. We are just going to keep practicing now that the [university] season is over and just stay with it and work hard.” – Taylor Hawkins
With the university season closed, the players will be back to their designated club teams here in the city for the summer months, but their trips to Vegas and BC were a chance to learn and build.
“Seeing how other teams were will be a driving force for how we will practice during the summer,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins may not be returning next year. She is currently finishing up her education degree and is hoping to get a teaching job after the summer, she is looking forward to next year’s university rugby season. It is a young team, so Hawkins is hopeful that many players will be returning because the team needs the experience to stay alive.
“I’m really grateful for the experience we had [this year] and to share it with the girls I did,” Hawkins stated, admitting that she loved it so much that if she doesn’t get a job, she will take more classes just so she can play.
You can watch most of the men’s and women’s players take the field over the summer at the Regina Rugby Union Club House, and look forward to seeing both teams represent the university again next year in the 2013-14 season.
Photo courtesy of portmarnock.com