The increase in popularity of women’s rugby in Peterborough over the last decade is a shining example of its development around the world.
With the hosting of the women’s university championships at Trent, the impressive development of the Pagans’ girls rugby program and tenacity of the high school girls rugby league, one can only expect the same level of success internationally.
Such is the case for homegrown rugby standout Barb Mervin as she and her Canadian Women’s Rugby Seven’s teammates capitalized on an opportunity and are now ranked the number one team in the world.
For the first time in its history, the International Rugby Board sanctioned a women’s rugby sevens tournament and elevated the level of the sport to the same standard as the men’s international circuit.
“This is huge for women’s rugby to be treated the same as the pros,” says Mervin. “It was an absolutely incredible tournament,”
The IRB is the world governing authority of the sport of rugby, providing guidance in all aspects of the sports organization and development, including official sanctioning for all tournaments that rank teams for the World Championships.
The sanctioning of tournaments is common practice in the men’s league. Many of its participants are not only seasoned national team veterans, but also players on many of the pro European leagues.
Due to its relative youth in comparison to its male sibling, the women’s circuit had never reached the same status. That is, until now.
As incredible as the ranking is on the international scene, the achievement has significant implication on home soil as well. The program has been improved with the assistance of the Own the Podium program and with its help, 22 carded athletes will move into the new Rugby Canada training centre in Langford, BC. There, the athletes will be able to focus on year round training for further success leading up to the 2013 World Championship.
As the sport has been accepted as an official sport of the 2016 Olympic games, focus has been placed on the sports development on the international stage by countries around the world. Each wanting to earn the bragging rights as the first Olympic gold medallist in the sports history.
However, Mervin is taking it match by match and will make a decision on 2016 when the time arrives.
“If I’m peaking at that time, I’ll consider it,” explains the 29-year-old. “If you focus too far ahead you miss out on the present.”
Having just returned to play from being concussed in a tournament in Hong Kong, she is focusing on training at the Rugby Canada training centre and developing her line of women’s competition wear, Aptoella, that she and many of her team-mates wear.
For those who are unfamiliar with Rugby Seven’s or Barb Mervin and her teammates, more information can be found at www.canadianrugby.ca. Mervin’s women’s rugby clothing line can be seen at www.aptoella.com