Interview with Rori Wood - From Sooke to University of British Columbia: National U18 Player Has Her Sites Set on Making National Senior Team
Rori is one of Canada's young rising stars in women's rugby, she represented Canada at the U18 level and now is on the radar for the senior women's team, attending their western camp last May. She is currently at UBC playing for the Thunderbirds. We talked to her to get an idea of her rugby journey from Sooke, a small community about 40 km west of Victoria, to the national stage in a sport where Canada's women are currently ranked 4th in the world.
BCRN: When did you first get interested in rugby, was it at school or a rugby club?
RW: I first started getting interested in Rugby in grade 8 at Journey Middle school when one of my teachers thought I would excel at it and told me I should play.
BCRN: What were your first thoughts about rugby when you started and what aspect of it kept you coming back?
RW: My first thoughts when I started playing rugby... I thought passing backwards was a bit odd. But I really enjoyed the fact that the rules were equal for men and women, because I was playing hockey at the time and girls in hockey aren’t allowed to hit because they’re viewed as too “weak” to take a hit.
BCRN: After your initial contact with rugby what was the next step in terms of high school or club rugby?
RW: After I started playing, my next steps were playing for the high school team, Edward Milne community school, to build my skills, as well as playing club rugby for the Westshore Valkyries.
BCRN: Who were some of the people that influenced your rugby career as it progressed?
RW: Other then my parents, I had some great coaches that started off my rugby career. Some of my very first club rugby coaches, Selina McGinnis, Brittany Sims, Jillian Fulton and Morgan D’Ganigian. They helped me develop all the skills I have today and helped push me to be the best I could be at that level. The other person that influenced my Rugby career in high school and still does to this day is Matt Mortenson. He helped continue my training outside and beyond Rugby and pushed me to keep playing other sports as well to keep up my athleticism.
BCRN: How did your friends and family react when you started to take rugby seriously?
RW: All of my friends were supportive of me, no matter what I did. My parents at first, I will admit, weren’t thrilled because I was very serious about trying to make a career out of ice hockey at the time. They didn’t know much about rugby and I think they were just afraid I was throwing away any chances at getting a scholarship for university. Ironically, it worked out in the end and now they are as supportive as ever and I could not be more grateful.
BCRN: What have been some of the highlights of your rugby career so far?
RW: Some highlights of my rugby career so far have been playing for U18 Team Canada, going to West Camp for the senior women’s national team, and beginning my journey as a UBC Thunderbird. I have the privilege of playing under some great coaches and alongside some of the best teammates ever.
BCRN: They say that rugby is a world game, how many places has it taken you so far?
RW: Rugby has taken me across the country to Ottawa, and down to Las Vegas. I look forward to going farther away in my Rugby journey
BCRN: You won a rugby scholarship at UBC, what sort of adjustment has it been going from high school to University, not only in terms of rugby but in adapting to a new life style away from home?
RW: Adjusting from high school to university has definitely been a huge change. Its the start of a new journey in my adult life. I still have my parents alongside me, guiding me as much as possible along the way, but I still have individual responsibilities that I have to take care of by myself and I love the independence. In terms of rugby, it wasn’t that different because I had been playing with the Westshore women’s team with and against many of the opponents I would be facing on the varsity field anyway. The biggest difference is the commitment to the team and the amount of training during the week. It is a large adjustment in the load of training, but you learn to love it.
BCRN: What's in the future, what are your goals in rugby and in terms of a career?
RW: My goals for my future rugby career obviously entail the senior women’s national 15s team. However, I have always felt that this is very typical goal among young rugby players, so I made one of my goals to be a player that other players love to play with but are afraid to play against. One of my goals is also to fight extremely hard for women to be paid professionally as rugby players. It would be my dream to be paid to do something I love to do everyday outside of an academic career.
BCRN: Last question, what has rugby taught you, what lessons have you learned from playing the game.
RW: What lessons has rugby taught me?
- How to get back up after being repeatedly knocked down
- ever lasting friendship
- how to work and be compatible with others whether you enjoy their company or not. Once I step onto the field, I am an equal teammate with everyone on my team.
- trusting others to do their job, so they can trust me to do mine.