April 15, 2014, Langford (ISN) – Julia Sugawara debuted with Canada’s Women’s Fifteens team in June 2004 against New Zealand. The 31-year-old from Surrey, British Columbia has represented Canada at two IRB Women’s Rugby World Cups, both in 2006 in Edmonton and in 2010 in England.
Sugawara currently resides in Surrey, British Columbia, where she is affiliated with the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club and has played with the provincial team since 1998. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in linguistics and is certified as an ESL teacher.
Thanks for joining me, Julia. You guys have been training at Shawnigan Lake School since arriving on Tuesday of last week, how is preparation coming along?
It’s been good. It was pretty intense starting with fitness testing, skills assessment and physical and mental testing, but now that we are getting into the rugby everyone is coming together and getting into the fun part of preparation.
What are some of the key areas you’re working on for playing USA?
We know they will be quick and aggressive all over the field so we are working on making sure we are ready to make quick decisions and getting all the pieces in the right spot around the field so we can be even more aggressive and faster than them.
Canada hasn’t played at home since 2011, and on the west coast since 2010, is it exciting to be playing at Shawnigan and at the COE in Langford?
Yes, it’s great. Especially since I am from BC. I know that there will be people coming over from the mainland like my friends and family, and there’s always a good crowd, especially at Shawnigan with all the kids that will come out. And Langford is a great rugby center too so it should be good.
You’re one of the few players who has World Cup experience, having played in Edmonton in 2006 and in England in 2010 for Canada, do you feel that leadership is a quality that will be called upon for you this year?
Yes I think that leadership and experience is one of my strengths, especially for some of the younger players that are coming in that aren’t quite sure of themselves. It helps to be able to tell them “its okay we’ve all been there”. I’d like to think people will learn from my experiences and I can add something to the team dynamics and give them an idea as to what to expect in that sense.
Whether it’s men’s or women’s hockey, soccer or rugby, playing against USA is always a great rivalry, is this series a fixture you’re really looking forward to?
We play them a lot so we know their style and they actually play a similar game to us. It’s great that we have a team close by that we get the opportunity to get a full test and good competition in, especially since we can’t play overseas every year.
What’s the off-field attitude like on this team?
Now that we are into all the stuff we are doing at practice and training it’s important for us to be comfortable with each other. When we are doing all the fitness testing it’s more individual and we depend on each other for verbal support. Now that we are into all the rugby stuff people are getting closer and figuring each other out, which is great.
2014 is a huge year for Women’s rugby, how important is having a strong CANAM Series to open the campaign to prepare for the World Cup?
A large part of this CANAM camp is that it’s a selections camp first, so its giving the girls an opportunity to stand out and show what they have and for the coaches to see that, but also to see different combinations of us working together and find the pieces that fit.
In terms of our preparation for the World Cup, it’s important for us to put players into pressure situations and see what they can do, so we can be prepared for games later this year.