May 23, 2014 ISN – Amanda Thornborough cannot imagine her life without rugby. She loves everything it encompasses on and off the field. She loves the team dynamics, the aggressive nature of the sport and the athleticism that goes into playing it at a high level. She has turned this sport into a lifestyle, and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thornborough started playing eight years ago after she was recruited from her high school’s soccer team, as the rugby coach was looking for some athletic girls to help boost the program. Almost immediately she fell in love with the dynamic skills required and the uniqueness of the game.
“My favorite thing about rugby is the power and combat aspects,” Thornborough explained.
“Being able to physically challenge an opponent is a great feeling. There are not a lot of women’s sports that allow you to do that.”
The Brandon Manitoba native’s career almost ended as she was entering her post-secondary education. Upon beginning her first year at the University of Manitoba, she learned the school did not have a rugby team. Fortunately during the National Women’s League Championships she was asked to attend a Under 20 camp. The following year she made the decision to move east and attended St. Francis Xavier University (St. FX) where she played for four years.
Thornborough helped lead the team to two National Championships and she personally accumulated a number of awards during her time at St. FX including, 2009 Rookie of the Year and the St. FX Coach’s award in 2011. She was also an AUS All-Star between 2009-2012 and CIS MVP in 2012.
But she continues to stay humble knowing she still has a long way to go and much to learn as one of the younger members of the National women’s program.
“Honestly my teammates have been the biggest influence and role models,” she exclaimed.
“To play with some of the best players in Canada inspires me. Whether its at my club, University or National Program, there is always someone to learn from and someone to push me to be better.”
She sets her standards high, and continues to make short-term goals for herself personally. Right now she is focused on the 2014 World Cup.
World Cup selections camp took place at Shawnigan Lake, and despite the trials and tribulations Thornborough was pleased with her performance.
“The first week was the toughest for sure. As a young player I am still managing the mental stress of testing and assessment, but overall I think it went well. Each camp builds off the last one, and our recent wins reflect that.”
Thorborough is not foreign to the skills and selections camps, as she has been a member of the National Senior Women’s Sevens team and helped them to an undefeated win at the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament in 2013. Later that year Thornborough received her first National Senior Women’s Cap in at the 2013 Nations Cup.
“Everything is in a much more condensed schedule during the fifteens selection camp,” she explained.
“Without the opportunity to train everyday together players have to develop, find chemistry and execute in a short period of time. That’s part of the challenge with a centralized program.”
Thornborough put up a good fight for her position at the CAN-AM Cup where she played the whole last game in a tough battle against USA. She pushed through the wet conditions knowing her dream was on the line. Canada narrowly won the second game 14-10, on a rainy day in Langford.
“To be selected for the World Cup team would be a career highlight. I always admired the women participating in the World Cups when I was a teenager; to be one of them has always been an aspiration,” she said.
“I’ve had the opportunity to wear the Canada jersey for five years now, and every single time I put it on it still gives me nerves and excitement. It’s a huge honor and each time I hope to do it justice.”