A pair of 15-year-old Saanich rugby players are happy to be playing together, and not against each other, as they suit up for Island U16 Tsunami at the Provincial Rugby Championships in Vancouver this weekend.
Maeve Maguire of Reynolds secondary will scrum down in the front row as a prop. Behind her in the scrum is openside flanker Shaye Tudor of Claremont secondary.
“We have 25 very strong girls going to defend their championship this weekend,” said coach Ryan Hall from Port Alberni. “Maeve and Shaye are exceptional players as forwards, especially considering their limited experience with the 15s version of the sport.”
In the Lower Island, the two played the free-flowing sevens format of rugby for their respective high schools (set for its Olympic debut in 2016) though they play the traditional 15s discipline with the Castaway Wanderers, one of two U18 girls club teams in town with Velox’s new West Shore team being the other.
“I really like playing with Maeve,” Tudor says. “I line up behind her in the scrum and then play off of her, and we play really well together. I’m also used to her lifting me in the lineups (with CW).”
Tudor was a former national competitor in diving and has since become a provincial level Olympic weightlifter. She’s grateful to play the “seek and destroy” role for the Tsunami.
It’s been a big jump into the sport for Tudor, as this is technically still her first season of rugby. She’s more than made herself noticeable, as she’s gained a reputation as a hard hitter who can track down anyone, using her explosive strength as a crossover athlete.
“Having played with and against Shaye, she’s one of the strongest players I know. She’s fast, a great tackler, and she’s just fearless,” Maguire said.
Tudor will co-captain the Tsunami, thanks to her outspoken and upbeat nature. And the team is deep in character said Hall, with players such as Maguire taking their roles so seriously.
“Maeve is an amazing prop, there’s limited 15s play in (Greater) Victoria so to see a South Island player in the forward row of Maeve’s calibre is surprising,” Hall said.
Maguire stepped in as captain for Reynolds in a few games this year. What makes Maguire a rare find at this age level is her gritty and tenacious play, and her passion for the position.
“I don’t know where (the tenacity) comes from really, you get on the field and the adrenaline kicks in,” Maguire said. “But I’m happy to be able to use my strengths at prop, I’ve always been one of the stronger girls.”
With CW, Maguire and Tudor played 15s in the newly formed Island U18 girls league this season against the West Shore-based Velox, Comox and Cowichan.
A strong performance this weekend can earn players an invite to Team B.C. tryouts for the national championships later this summer.
CW players on the Tsunami are Sofie Kennedy (Stelly’s) and Allie Bos (Glenlyon Norfolk School), Adrienne Graham (GNS), Camille Irvine (Claremont) and Halayna Roberts (Oak Bay High), with Madison Paquette (Stelly’s) of Velox.