The best Under 20 women rugby players in Canada are in Windsor this week to compete in the U20 Eastern Canada Championships. The finals will be taking place this weekend.
It’s an opportunity to see the up-and-comers in this growing sport — something Rugby Nova Scotia’s provincial coach Jack Hanratty said is worthwhile for anyone interested in the game.
“You get the opportunity to watch your home province in your own backyard play against the best teams in the country,” said Hanratty in a phone interview.
The games are being held at King’s-Edgehill School. The tournament started July 11 and will wrap up July 16.
The event was born after an attempt to organize a national competition fell through, Hanratty said.
“We thought that we would try to create something ourselves. We got together with Rugby Ontario and Quebec and said let's get the best of the east to come to Nova Scotia and play,” said Hanratty.
Warm up games were held July 11-13, allowing each team the chance to size up the other teams and make adjustments to their line up. The Nova Scotia Keltics played twice, defeating Quebec and losing to Ontario.
On July 14, Ontario and Quebec play in the first official match of the championship. Game time is 4 p.m.
On July 15, Nova Scotia is slated to take on Ontario at 3 p.m.
The gold medal game is set for July 16.
“This is a great challenge for our girls, playing against some of the best players in Canada,” said Keltics U20 coach Amber Davison in a press release. She said they are looking forward to the challenge.
“They all feel they have a point to prove and being at home is such a bonus. We are excited to showcase some east coast talent and encourage all of the Maritime rugby community to come out and support the home team.”
There are some familiar faces on the U20 Nova Scotia team as several former high school players made the cut.
“Sam Lake is a local girl. It's been awesome to see her playing not only in her hometown but also captaining the squad,” said Hanratty.
“For her to lead the team wearing the provincial colours in her hometown is pretty special to me.”
Other recognizable faces include Sophie Parker, Jessie Bryan and Alex Ondo.
The Keltics squad is comprised of players from across the province. Hanratty said Amelia Hatfield, from Halifax, and Sarah McCarron, from Antigonish, are both key players to watch for in the upcoming matches.
Rugby Canada’s U20 head coach, Jen Boyd, is in Windsor scouting out the talent. She’s looking to identify players to add to the national team when they participate in the U20 Can-Am Series.
“That shows you the calibre of athlete (that is here),” said Hanratty.