In honour of National Girls and Women in Sports Day we chatted with Meadowridge alumni and teachers who have made an impact on and off the field (or pitch, piste, or pool!). Hear from these varsity athletes about how their sport has impacted their lives and what has kept them with it.
Lauren Crawford '13
Rugby at Durham University
How did you get involved in rugby?
Riding the bus (bus #3) to Meadowridge every day, we used to always pass a sign for the tri-cities United Rugby Club advertising their Youth Rugby programme. It sounded interesting to me. So, when I was in Grade 8, I finally went online, found out more details, and haven’t stopped playing since!
What do you love about rugby?
It’s corny, but rugby really has made me the person I am today, and I would have missed out on so many opportunities without it. Rugby is an amazing sport that requires you to be strong, fit, and have the endurance to last a match while using your brain to read the other team’s plays. Women’s rugby specifically is a massively growing sport that is extremely empowering for women. There are 15 different positions on the pitch (I’ve played 13 out of 15 in my time) that suit every body type and ensure that no one is excluded. Rugby has meant that, no matter where I am, I have a guaranteed 15 friends from joining a team and all of these women have always been extremely accomplished, impressive and wonderful to play with and for.
What motivated you to pursue athletics in university?
I applied to universities strictly in the UK; and, when applying for University, I knew I didn’t want to give up rugby. I prioritized my subject (Chemistry) when choosing universities, but I also didn’t let myself apply anywhere that didn’t have a women’s rugby team. I ended up going to Durham University in England which at the time was the best in the UK for Chemistry but also had the best Women’s Rugby program in England—the perfect situation for me! Even before I had received my offer from Durham, the Women’s Rugby Club Captain contacted me to find out about my rugby history. When they found out I’d played for Vancouver Wave and trialed for BC Rugby, I was invited to join them for pre-season before the academic year even started. I was the only first-year at pre-season and it resulted in me being the only first year in the starting XV and starting at Outside Centre, my favourite position.
During Fresher’s Week in the UK (similar to orientation week in North America) all of the sports teams ran recruitment or taster sessions to recruit new players. Through these taster sessions Durham University Women’s Rugby Football Club (DUWRFC) has found many players who had never touched a rugby ball before and turned them into England Roses Women’s players who have represented on the international field for years, proving that even if you don’t play in high school, you can pick up sport at University and it can change your life.
How do you balance sport and school?
I won’t lie; it wasn’t easy. It also wasn’t any harder than it had been at Meadowridge. It became evident very quickly to me that I was much more passionate about rugby and sport than I had been about Chemistry. So I made my degree my full-time job that I did 9-5 on weekdays and then spent all my time outside of that playing, training and organizing all the rugby I wanted. It was a battle in motivation, but by sticking to this schedule and assigning myself deadlines it was manageable.
What advice do you have for students who are interested in getting involved in rugby? In getting recruited?
Taking it straight from Nike – Just Do It! Whether it’s rugby or any other sport, I honestly believe the only thing you’ll ever regret is not trying it at all. Every club out there, no matter the level, is always recruiting and always willing to nurture new talent so just reach out and show up.
For university recruitment, this is where Women’s Rugby is brilliant. This is still a growing sport so if you have experience before going to university, contact the University club as part of your application process and they’ll tell you everything you need to know and lots of the UK universities now have Women’s Rugby scholarships to help grow the sport as well!
Any recent successes to share?
Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) recently recruited me and moved me out to Hong Kong to play for them in the Dettol Women’s Rugby Premiership. I never knew this kind of opportunity even existed and I never would have had the network to make it possible if I hadn’t played rugby at university.
Lauren now plays for the Hong Kong Football Club (HKFC) Ice, the Women’s 1st XV rugby team while also coaching HKFC U18 Girls. While not on the pitch, Lauren works for James Fisher Renewables focusing on Offshore Wind Farms in Asia Pacific.