CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The P.E.I. Rugby Union (PEIRU) wants to create a lasting legacy to Island rugby and to that end it’s inducting six members into its new Hall of Fame.
The ceremony is pat of the PEIRU’s annual awards ceremony, which goes Saturday, 5-9 p.m., at the Charlottetown Fire Hall.
his is the first of six profiles provided by the union on the inductees.
Atkins was a pioneer of women’s rugby on P.E.I. and enjoyed an illustrious playing career that started at Charlottetown Rural and continued across Canada to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia and back to P.E.I.
She was recognized as one of the top Canadian female rugby players of her time and was a fixture on the senior women’s national team long-list throughout the 1990s, earning a tryout with the 1997 World Cup squad.
On the Island, Atkins was instrumental in building women’s rugby into the force that it is today. There is scarcely a part of the sport she hasn’t touched.
She was the first P.E.I. coach of either gender to become level 3 certified. After earning rookie of the year honours at Acadia in 1991, she founded the women’s rugby program at UPEI the following year and remained involved as a player and a coach for the next 24 years.
Fighting and winning a battle to have the program granted varsity sport status in 1999 was a highlight from those years. Some of her accolades as a varsity player at UPEI include being a three-time Atlantic University Sport (AUS) all-star, a two-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) academic all-Canadian, a two-time CIS all-Canadian and AUS player of the year.
At the same time she was achieving at UPEI she was also a leader in building women’s high school rugby, where for 20 years (1992-2012) the teams she coached competed for a medal every year but one. And she didn’t stop there. Provincially, she led the P.E.I. age grade and senior women’s representative programs as a player and a coach throughout the 1990s and 2000s. As an administrator she was the director of women’s rugby with the P.E.I. Rugby Union from 1992-2015 and is responsible for recruiting many women into the coaching, and referee ranks.
Her passion was contagious and her drive was inspiring. Many of the players she coached and mentored are still active today as players, coaches, referees and administrators. They are continuing her legacy and building the women’s game on P.E.I. into the success it is today.