Maple Leafs depart for Cayman Islands


by Adam Powell

November 7, 2013 (ISN) – The men’s and women’s Maple Leaf Squads have departed for the Cayman Islands en route to the 2013 NACRA tournament.

Ahead of their departure the men spent a few days in Toronto where they trained at Crescent school and had the opportunity to take in the Canada vs. New Zealand Maori game at BMO field. The opportunity for the team to get in some extra training and spend some time amongst teammates was one of great value.

“Training has been really exciting, getting to know all the guys, its been fun watching and learning from the guys on the team with years of experience,” said Theo Sauder, the youngest member of the men’s Maple Leafs squad.

“We’re really starting to come together as a team and it should be exciting to see us hit the field full stride in the Caymans,” said Sauder.

While in attendance for Sunday’s international friendly against the All Blacks the Maples Leafs were honored in front of North America’s largest ever rugby crowd.

“It was really cool to be recognized in front of such a large crowd. It would be great if every Canadian rugby game could be supported with enthusiasm like that,” said Sauder.

As the defending NACRA champions, there is quite a bit at stake and the need for a successful showing by the Maple Leafs is well understood.

“It’s really important for us to defend the title especially with the Olympics coming up in 2016, NACRA is one of the qualifying tournaments, so it’s really important for us continue our success in this tournament,” said Sauder.

As a young squad an opportunity such as the NACRA tournament can play a large role in their development. The coaching staff have done a great job at selecting a mix of youth and experience to ensure that while development is a priority, success is as well.

The women’s squad, captained by Jess Dovanne, have also been hard at work in Langford preparing for the upcoming tournament.

“What haven’t we been working on? Every day is a new day and we all push ourselves, and the girls next to us, to work harder than the day before. There has been a lot of focus on game sense and fitness,” said U20 captain Sara Kaljuvee, when asked about the focus of their preparation.

“We are very excited! The amount of hard work everyone puts in day in and day out is unbelievable and now we get to bring that to the world stage. Everyone is really excited to play in these games. We finally get to execute what we’ve been working on over the past couple of months,” said Kaljuvee.

The Maple Leaf program develops and feeds talent into the senior teams, just as the men’s coaching staff has done, the women’s team is a strong mix of youth and experience. Whenever there is such an abundance of youth maintaining focus is always a high priority

“I would say the positivity of our team unity keeps us focused because we know we can rely on one another. I know that every time we put that jersey on and step out onto the field we represent our country so for me that helps me focus because it is a great honour to wear the Maple Leaf,” said Kaljuvee.

A good coach is never satisfied, especially when coaching youthful and somewhat inexperienced athletes.

“For some this is our first time playing 7’s on the International stage. Our coaching staff has extensive knowledge which makes the learning process of our game plan, our roles, and responsibilities a lot easier,” explained Kaljuvee.

“Our game plan is one of the main aspects we’ve focused on. The veterans on the squad have been amazing leaders by ensuring we are all on the same page. This has really helped our young team prepare for this tournament,” said Kaljuvee.

Men’s Maple Leafs 2013 NACRA Schedule:

  • November 9 – Day 1
  • 10:20 – Maple Leafs vs. Bahamas
  • 13:50 – Maple Leafs vs. TCI
  • 17:40 – Maple Leafs vs. Barbados

Men’s Maple Leafs Roster for NACRA Sevens

  • Name – (Club, CRC Team) Hometown, Province
  • Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC) Abbotsford, BC
  • Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto – Captain
  • Pat Kay – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
  • Clayton Meeres – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Chilliwack, BC
  • Pat Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/The Rock) St. Johns, NL
  • Jorden Sandover-Best – (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears) Vancouver
  • Theo Sauder – (St. George’s HS) Vancouver, BC
  • Jack Smith – (James Bay AA/Peterborough RFC) Peterborough, ON
  • Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
  • Jordan Wilson-Ross – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Allison, ON
  • Nathan Yanagiya, (UVIC Vikes/Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
  • Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) West Vancouver, BC

Men’s Maple Leafs Team Staff:

  • Shane Thompson – Head Coach
  • Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
  • Abby Golenzoski – Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Todd Silverthorn – Team Manager

Women’s Maple Leafs 2013 NACRA Schedule:

  • November 9 – Day 1
  • 09:00 – Maple Leafs vs. Cayman Islands
  • 12:30 – Maple Leafs vs. TCI
  • 16:20 – Maple Leafs vs. Mexico

Women’s Maple Leafs Roster for NACRA Sevens

  • Name – (Club) Hometown, Province
  • Emily Belchos (Markham Irish RFC) Barrie, ON
  • Nikki Case, (Yeoman Lions) Toronto, ON
  • Hannah Darling (Peterborough Pagans RFC/Shawnigan Lake School) Warsaw, ON
  • Jessica Dovanne, (Velox RFC) Victoria, BC – Captain
  • Arielle Dubissette-Borrice, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Toronto, ON – Vice-Captain
  • Paige Farries (Druid RFC) Red Deer, AB
  • Julia Greenshields, (Sarnia Saints) Sarnia, ON
  • Sara Kaljuvee (Toronto Scottish RFC) Pickering, ON
  • Nadia Popov (Aurora Barbarians) Newmarket, ON
  • Frederique Rajotte (Markam Irish RFC) Markham, ON

Women’s Maple Leafs Team Staff:

  • Sandro Fiorino – Head Coach
  • John Tait – Assistant Coach/Manager
  • Dana Agar-Newman – Strength and Conditioning Coach
  • Sandeep Nandhra – Athletic Therapist