National rugby is very much in the spotlight just now with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan just days away, as well as both the men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens teams having qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. BC players can presently be found peppered across all four Canadian National rugby teams, from Olympic medal winners Caroline Crossley and Kayla Moleschi, to household names like Phil Mack and Harry Jones to name a few.
BC Representative teams had a strong year in 2018/19 bringing, claiming podium positions at a slew of competitions including the Las Vegas Sevens Invitational, Vancouver Sevens Invitational, U16 and U18 Western Championships. “There is a real wave of talent at the top end of our Age-Grade programs at the moment with many of them already on the radar of national team selectors,” comments Aaron Takel, Manager for Rugby Growth and Development (Men & Boys) at BC Rugby. “In these key years post high school, athletes have a number of demands on their time and resources. We owe it to our most promising young players to do everything we can to keep rugby accessible and remove potential barriers to competing at the highest levels.”
Speaking with the recipients themselves, all four were hugely gracious to receive these bursaries. “To represent your Nation is the ultimate experience,” said Emma Feldinger, “the ability to put on that Rugby Canada jersey and walk out onto the pitch is a feeling like none other”. Feldinger, hailing from Alexis Creek near Williams Lake, is yet another rugby star from a region that has already produced several national team stars including Jake Ilnicki and Kayla Moleschi. “Rugby means so much to me and I want to prove to my family, friends and coaches who have supported me this whole way that it wasn’t a waste of time. Receiving this bursary will help me focus on rugby and not just making ends meet.” Feldinger, along with fellow bursary recipient and UBC Thunderbird teammate Shoshanah Seumanutafa, were both capped on the Canada U20 Women’s XV tour to England earlier this year.