Six current and past members of the UVic women’s rugby coaching staff and three additional Vikes alumnae are among those inducted into Rugby Canada’s 2020 Hall of Fame. Members of the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup team connected with the Vikes include head coach Brittany Waters, along with Julianne Zussman, Kim Donaldson, Laura Russell, Barbara Mervin, Mandy Marchak, Jessica Gaudry-Dovanne and Emily Belchos.
The 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup team delivered breakout performances in the lead up to and during the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France. This historic group of elite athletes turned in a magical performance that year, making it to the final to be narrowly defeated by England. Their second-place finish is the highest Rugby World Cup finish of any Canadian team.
Waters, a natural talent who stumbled into the sport during her first year at UVic, now finds herself a two-time Hall of Famer. The last time was a year ago as a 2013 National Senior Women’s 7s team member.
“I feel very honoured to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with both of these incredible teams. Each experience was unique, and each team made history for our country, so this induction is just as special, said Waters.
“Some of my favourite memories came from the 2014 World Cup, and it is always wonderful to be reminded of them. It is also very important to have female representation in the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame, and it is great to have these two outstanding women’s teams recognized.”
Amid the 2020 class of Hall of Fame inductees is former Vike, Leslie Cripps. Now living in London, England, Cripps played for the Valkyries, which became the Vikes, from 1996-1999. Recognized as a pioneer in the sport, she made forty-seven international appearances representing Rugby Canada and served as captain on twenty occasions during her career. A national team player for a decade, Cripps represented Canada at the 2002, 2006, and 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup’s.
“I started rugby the summer of 1996 in my hometown of Williams Lake. I would never have even thought to start playing in university except that one of the girls on my hometown team had just graduated from UVic and said the Valkyries were a lot of fun, said Cripps.
“Playing at UVic built everything I knew about rugby. I would never have thought of playing for BC or Canada had it not been for the coaches and players I was immersed with on the Island.”
With a pedigree of world-class athletes and coaches leading the current Vikes program, the women’s rugby team will look to continue its run as a force in Canada West.
“We are dedicated to developing future leaders at UVic and are fortunate to have so many great role models as coaches and alumni for the Vikes women’s rugby program. We cannot wait to see what this next generation of student-athletes can do,” said Waters.