Local rugby athletes headed to westerns

Submitted photo

Chantal Bourassa may have only started playing rugby this year, but it didn’t take long for the Prince Albert teen to reach the top.

Bourassa has been named to Team Saskatchewan’s U16 team for westerns being held in Kelowna from July 25 to 28.

She’s being joined on the squad by at least one other teammate, Abby Tiessen, along with another local teammate and friend who is also considering making the trip.

“It feels really cool,” Bourassa said.

“I didn’t know I would make the Saskatchewan team right off the bat.”

This is the first year Prince Albert had a girls’ rugby team.

The local athletes went from learning the game for the first time to competing at the Man-Sask tournament, and now moving on to Westerns.

Bourassa is no stranger to competing on a big stage. She played for the Prince Albert Celtics soccer club for years, making the Saskatchewan Summer Games team.

That experience taught her the importance of coming together as a team for a short tournament, something Bourassa said will be important to remember for westerns.

She’s also leaning on some of the more experienced girls for help.

“There are players who have played for eight years,” Bourassa said.

“They help us to understand certain things.”

Wendy Bourassa, Chantal’s mom, said it’s “cool” that Chantal made Team Saskatchewan.

“The coaches were encouraging,” she added.

Chantal agreed. Her coaches even came out to Manitoba to watch Chantal and her teammates play in the Man-Sask tournament.

“They’re really encouraging,” Chantal said.

She said that there is a lot of technique to learn for people just starting out playing rugby, and plays to pick up along the way.

She also said that you can’t be afraid to go in and tackle someone.

“I like how you get in the moment and do whatever you can,” she said. “You have to go with your instincts.”

She encouraged anyone else considering playing rugby to try it.

“I really enjoyed it,” she said.

“It builds teamwork and leadership.”