With speed, agility, grit and determination, a Morningside-based athlete is earning her way into the hard-hitting sport of rugby.
Raven Craig, 20, who plays for the Red Deer Titans women’s team, has been immersing herself into a sport she’s loved for well over four years.
Craig just returned from competing in the 2015 Las Vegas Seven Rugby event and is now hitting the pitch for pre-season training with the Titans.
“It’s a high contact sport for women,” she said. “It really has high energy and it is one of the only sports where women can actually hit.”
Craig’s interest in rugby all started when she was attending Lacombe Composite High School (LCHS) in Grade 10. Before, she dabbled in numerous sports including soccer, where she was often told she was hitting the other players a little too hard.
So with a strong will, it was the hard-hitting sport of rugby that really drew her in.
“I tried out for the girls’ rugby team and thought they would be making cuts,” she explained. “But they said they only had enough girls to make the team.”
Craig played three years with LCHS and then after graduation, she was faced with a decision — either move to New Zealand, a rugby hot spot, to participate in a six-month gym teacher program or to join the Red Deer Titans.
“The Titans offered so many different options,” said Craig, noting that she felt very special to be selected for such an opportunity, making it much easier to solidify a decision.
And so began her time with the Titans Club, where over the past two years, she has excelled and continues to hone her skills within the competitive league. She has enrolled in numerous training programs and has now committed to a three-year plan revolving around training, playing and coaching.
As an out-of-town athlete, Craig often has to do a lot of solo training through the assistance of videos. Some days, when the weather and time permits, she heads to Red Deer for training.
“It’s a treat,” she said. “I love to commit an entire day to training.”
“It’s also a really a cool sport to travel with,” said Craig of the opportunities rugby has offered her, like the 2015 USA Sevens Rugby event this past February.
The international tournament hosted rugby athletes from all over the world. Craig played in the juniors tournament representing Canada.
So, what’s next for Craig? She will be attending Team Alberta tryouts in the end of May and then from there, “It’s an open book.”
She gained a mentor last season who has been advising her which teams and events to try out for, assisting in progressing her career.
“I just do it for fun really,” said Craig of the sport. Looking ahead years into the future, Craig hopes to still to be playing.
To make a tough rugby player, all it really takes is willingness, explains Craig.
“Every single person who has tried out or started to play, on that very first day, you may not have any idea what you are doing, but you just have to get into it,” she said. “You have to learn to let go of control and get into the game. Once you try it, you will love it.”
The Titans Rugby Club will be hosting a ‘Try Rugby Day’ on April 18th starting at 4 p.m at the Red Deer Titans Field (74 Range Road 275A, Red Deer County). Prospective players can learn basic techniques and get a feel for the high-powered game.
For more information contact or visit www.titansrugby.com.