Women’s rugby doubles down on youthful roster


Sept 16, 2014 (ISN) – VICTORIA – Mark Hall enters his third
season as head coach of the University of Victoria Vikes women’s rugby team, looking
to improve from last season’s season that included only one win. The young team – 90
per cent of players either in first or second year of play – is working to convert
their raw talent into concrete victories.

While the team lacks Canada West experience, the Vikes only lost one player from
their 2013 roster. A previous record of 1-3-0 leaves plenty of room for improvement
and Hall sees both veterans and new additions lending their skills to the season.

Second-year Vike Jess Neilson (North
Vancouver, B.C.) will be a player to watch, a high-profile high school recruit who
battled injuries that prevented her from participating last season. In August 2014,
Neilson and Canada’s Under 20 team defeated the USA to win gold at the Can-Am
Championship and was featured in The Province newspaper’s 2013 Head of the Class.

Rookie Jamie Beck (Houston, B.C.) also
brings national team experience to the Vikes. Beck competed for Canada in December
2013 at the Tobago International Rugby 7s Tournament and the five-foot-six wing will
be pivotal for Victoria.

Gurpreet Dwaliwal (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Madeleine
Graham (Edmonton, Alta.) round out the
Vikes’ key additions, both being consistent and key factors on their respective
provincial teams.

Third-year fullback Kara Galbraith
(Ladysmith, B.C.) and senior flanker Laura
Crowe-Hutchon (West Vancouver, B.C.)
bring strength and experience to the squad. Both competed for the British Columbia
senior women’s team in the National Women’s league (NWL) this past summer.

In addition the Vikes can pull from second-year halfback Nicole
Crowley (Cobble Hill, B.C.) who
captained the Under-18 BC team to a Canadian national title this summer, fourth-year
eightman Alanna Cryer (Calgary, Alta.),
fourth-year lock Caitlin Harvey
(Toronto, Ont.), as well as another team Canada stand out Tiffany
Picketts (North Vancouver, B.C.).

The Vikes begin their 2014 Canada West season at home against the Calgary Dinos
Sept. 21 at 11:30 a.m. at Wallace Field.

2013 conference record: 1-3-0 (5th, missed playoffs