ROAD TO THE IRB WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: MARY JANE KIRBY

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July 20,2014(ISN) – The World Cup has been Jane Kirby’s dream since the first day she stepped on the rugby pitch. Her enthusiasm and dedication to the sport has finally paid off and she will travel to Paris, France with the team to compete at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in August.

Kirby was convinced to join her high school’s rugby team on a UK tour in grade ten without having ever stepped on the field. She had no idea what she was getting herself into but today Kirby can’t imagine her life without the sport.

“They needed more girls to go on tour, so I went home and told my parents I was going to join a new team,” recalls the Caledon, Ontario native.

“That tour was my very first experience and I remember not knowing anything about rugby. I went online and googled rugby and when a video of the All Blacks came up. My parents were a little worried about what I was getting myself into, but I convinced them to let me go and since then they have been nothing but supportive of me.”

After high school Kirby enrolled at the University of Guelph, where she played along side current World Cup teammates Jacey Murphy and Brittany Benn. During her time at Guelph she got a taste for the kind of rugby player she wanted to be. Under the coaching of the current National Team Back’s coach, Colette McAuley, Kirby found an influence and role model she would continue to be inspired by.

“I’ve never met anyone that loves competition and winning as much as I do,” Kirby laughed.

“Colette has been such a positive influence throughout my whole rugby career. She has preached from day one that even at the most elite level, you should still love what you do; those words have guided me to where I am today.”

Now that Kirby has accomplished her goal of making the World Cup team, she is focusing on playing the best rugby of her career.

“I want to make sure I go into this competition with a competitive edge,” she explained.

“In New Zealand we played against the first and third ranked teams, we knew going in the competition would be high. After we beat Australia, we didn’t feel like we had played our best game, we needed to be reminded that it was actually a big deal, we had just beaten the third placed team and we had done an amazing thing.”

The New Zealand tour was used as preparation for the World Cup. According to the now resident of Guelph, it gave the team huge insight in preparation for August. They learnt that they have not peaked in performance level and they now are aware of the type of rugby they would like to play and the quality of rugby they are capable of.

“The days leading up to playing the Black Ferns were definitely the hardest. Growing up, no matter what level you play at New Zealand is always the team people refer to,” Kirby recalled.

“When our anthem finished and New Zealand performed the Haka, that was an intense moment but after I had never felt so ready to play. Everyone got so pumped up, knowing we were there at an international level to compete and we were there to play our game.”

The women did just that, narrowing the gap between themselves and the current World Champions is an accomplishment they couldn’t be prouder of achieving a month before the World Cup.

“No matter what level you play at, from club to a national level, there is a fine line between the seriousness of practicing and level of fun and enjoyment rugby generates. I take that wherever I go, no matter what level I am at I am always enjoying what I do,” exclaimed Kirby.

“I am so excited for this new journey, I love this game and I want everyone to know how much fun it is. Rugby is so much fun!”

Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup Roster:

Elissa Alarie, (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club) Trois-Rivieres, QC
Emily Belchos, (Markham Irish RFC) Barrie, ON
Brittany Benn, (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Stephanie Bernier, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, Quebec
Tyson Beukeboom, (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, Ontario
Latoya Blackwood, (St. Anne de Bellevue) Montreal, QC
Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
Olivia DeMerchant, (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
Kim Donaldson, (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) Toronto, ON
Jessica Dovanne, (Velox RFC) Victoria, BC
Magali Harvey, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Mary-Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
Hilary Leith, (Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
Kayla Mack, (Wild Oats RFC) Saskatoon, SK
Mandy Marchak, (Capilano RFC) Winnipeg, MB
Barbara Mervin, (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON
Jacey Murphy, (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
Karen Paquin, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Kelly Russell, Captain (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Laura Russell, (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Maria Samson, (Calgary Hornets) Calgary, AB
Julia Sugawara, (Burnaby Lake RFC) Surrey, BC
Amanda Thornborough, (Brandon Barbarians RFC) Brandon, MB
Brittany Waters, (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC
Julianne Zussman, (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC

Canada’s Women’s Team Staff:

Head Coach: Francois Ratier
Forwards Coach: Gary Dukelow
Backs Coach: Colette McAuley
Technical Advisor: John Tait
Strength and Conditioning: Steve Mackinnon
Physiotherapist: Adrienne Stinson
Manager: Meaghan Howat
Analyst: James Kent
Media Manager: Bryan Kelly

RUGBY CANADA WOMEN’S FIFTEENS 2014 FIXTURES

CANADA 51 – 7 USA
April 15, 2014
Shawnigan Lake School, Mill Bay, BC

CANADA 14 – 10 USA
April 19, 2014
Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC

CANADA 22-0 AUSTRALIA
June 6, 2014
Tauranga Domain, Tauranga, New Zealand

CANADA 8-16 NEW ZEALAND
June 10, 2014
Tauranga Domain, Tauranga, New Zealand

CANADA 21 – 33 NEW ZEALAND
June 14, 2014
Rugby Park, Whakatane, New Zealand

WOMEN’S RWC – CANADA VS SPAIN
August 1, 2014
Paris, France
Kickoff 3pm local (10am ET/7am PT)

WOMEN’S RWC – CANADA VS SAMOA
August 5, 2014
Paris, France
Kickoff 5pm local (12pm ET/9am PT)

WOMEN’S RWC – CANADA VS ENGLAND
August 9, 2014
Paris, France
Kickoff 3:45pm local (10:45am ET/7:45am PT)

WOMEN’S RWC SEMI-FINALS
(If Qualify)
August 13, 2014
Paris, France
Kickoff TBD

WOMEN’S RWC FINALS
(If Qualify)
August 17, 2014
Paris, France
Kickoff TBD