CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - When you hear the phrase “it’s a process” in sports terms, it really is.
Rugby players Alysha Corrigan and Holly Jones get it, too, after returning from the recent national east senior women’s camp in Kingston, Ont.
Corrigan, from Charlottetown, and Jones, from Riverview, N.B., but living on the Island, were among the 40 hopefuls aiming to impress the senior women’s coaches.
Now they wait for a possible call to join the Maple Leaf development team to sandwich between Charlottetown Rugby Football Club (CRFC) games, provincial senior action and the senior women’s rugby nationals.
“It was good, a good experience. They’re all really good in terms of drills and stuff. I think I did well, everyone did well. Hard work, but worth it, I guess,” said Jones, a two-time Atlantic university all-star with UPEI. “I’m on their radar kind of thing. Just keep doing what I’m doing. The goal is to get in as much rugby as we can. It’s a short season.”
That hard work included opening with six-hour sessions full of drills the first two days, then a shorter session on Day 3 with more drills and ending with a game on Day 4.
And Corrigan admits there’s not much left in the tank by then.
“At that point, you put your head down and go,” said Corrigan, recently awarded UPEI’s co-female athlete of the year for 2017. “It definitely went well, learned a lot (over those) hard and long training days. I learned a lot to bring back and share with the girls.”
What the camp did, too, was open their eyes to what they need to do to improve.
Jones, her fitness hampered after recovering from a broken ankle in February, returned knowing her fitness must get better, and will once the injury fully heals. She learned a few tricks as well.
She’s scheduled more fitness testing next month in Halifax and those updated numbers will be sent on to Rugby Canada.
“I wasn’t so worried about how it would hold up. It swelled and was tight, but the rest of my body was the same so it kind of fit in,” Jones said. “(I learned) rugby-specific things like how to hook the ball (to keep it more secure) in contact. And we ran the new offence and defence they’re looking to run at the national level.”
Corrigan led the Panthers in points last season with 40, good for a fifth-place tie in the Atlantic University Sport conference with Acadia’s Natasha Johnson. Corrigan also kicked 11 converts, third in the AUS.
And she had a laundry list of things she wanted to absorb at the camp littered with older and more experienced players.
“Everything can be better. Kicking and you can always be a better tackler, every rugby player would say to be a better tackler,” Corrigan said. “Just trying to keep up and push myself. You advanced a little each day. Being coachable is something I strive for. It’s definitely a different pace of game so you always have to be in the top of your fitness.”
The Maple Leafs is a farm team for the national senior women’s squad goes on a tour in Europe later this year.
Corrigan and Jones head to the national senior women’s championship July 15-22 in Saskatoon, Sask., with the Nova Scotia Keltics. The Keltics tangle will the British Columbia Bears, Equipe Quebec, Ontario Blues and the Prairie Wolfpack for a national title.
The pair also suit up for the CRFC as it looks to defend its Nova Scotia Tier A women’s title.