Earlier this year the Canadian women’s sevens team won two of the International Rugby Board’s first world tournaments ever sanctioned.
Yet Greater Victoria, the same city that hosts the women’s national program, has no formal youth program for girls.
Last year the Castaway Wanderers rugby club changed that by starting one. Marley Riordan stepped up to coach, and this year, CW is hoping to add an under-18 team to its girls program of players aged 11 to 16.
“But for one or two high school girls rugby teams, which face their own challenges in terms of numbers, there’s nowhere for teenage girls to play,” said Riordan.
“Now we’re getting interest from some 17 and 18 year olds, plus some of our own players are aging up.”
The coach is a former provincial champion with Burnaby Lake, and has coached high school rugby since she graduated high school in P.E.I.
“We’ll take girls from however far they’re willing to drive. We’ve worked with Velox (home of the city’s only women’s team, UVic Vikes not included) to ensure we’re not competing for the same players. Hopefully soon they’ll have a program of they’re own.
“For now, this is for the whole South Island. “
If the surname seems familiar, it is. Riordan adopted it from hubby Pat, the long time UVic Vikes forward who captained Canada at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Marley came here to be an officer with the Victoria police, and is now on maternity leave to care for the couple’s six-month old son, Leis.
CW’s girls program was mostly spearheaded by David Crossley, who’s daughter Caroline graduated CW’s mini rugby program. As is common with girls by 11 or 12 years of age, there was a boys team but no girls program to train with.
All ages partake in training sessions, and on Sunday mornings the groups will be split into U16 and U18 groups for competition, hopefully against high school and/or club teams up-Island and on the Mainland.
Youth rugby begins in September. Registration is this Sunday (Aug. 26) from 10 a.m. to noon at Windsor Park Pavilion. Players can also register online at CWrugby.com, or call Ian MacLean at 250-721-1527 for more info.