VANCOUVER - The British Columbia senior women's provincial team will open the 2012 National Women's League Finals against Eastern foes Ontario on Thursday, June 28th, and one player to keep an eye on is England-bound forward Hilary Leith. The Capilano RFC standout and Carson Graham Secondary grad from North Vancouver will be heading overseas to play for the world-renowned Saracens Rugby Club this fall as she finalizes her plans to relocate to the bustling suburbs of London.
This Thursday Leith could potentially be scrumming down in the front row for her province or powering the engine room as a lock, but either way she will be making her presence felt according to BC head coach Pat Fleck.
"Hilary is an extremely good tackler and gets around the field and is a presence all over the pitch," Fleck said. "She has been making herself known at the recent camps we have been holding in preparation for Quebec and I'm hoping she makes a similar impact at nationals where we will rely on her versatility and scrummaging abilities."
After a successful run as a collegiate wrestler while on scholarship at Missouri Valley, Leith returned to North Vancouver and excelled as a team leader at Capilano RFC while playing in the British Columbia Women's Adidas Premiership. Recently Leith found herself at a point in life ready to test her abilities against the best and couldn't pass up the opportunity to play for the Saracens.
"One of my goals has been to play overseas and to play against and learn from the best in the game," Leith added. "I felt like my window of opportunity was closing and it seems like the right time for a change."
Leith has tasted success at the club level winning a provincial championship in 2010 with Capilano and has gone on to play for the Canadian U19 national team. Her preferred position she says is tighthead prop, which happens to be the same position as fellow BC and Canada veteran Marlene Donaldson. Heading overseas Leith hopes will increase her chances of being selected for the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup, the ultimate stage for any XVs player in rugby.
Leith will join a list of several talented Canadian women to have plied their trade in England, including current Saracens standout and fellow North Shore product Mandy Marchak. Previous Canadian players to have suited up for Saracens also include Sarah Ulmer, Leslie Cripps and Julia Sugawara.
"It will be great to have Mandy playing there and she has been a huge influence on getting me over to to play for the Saracens," Leith added. "I know a lot of the girls that have been through the system over there and they really performed well which is great as it's some of the best rugby in the world."
Leith will depart for England next Fall, but in the mean time she is setting her sights on a goal much closer to home - lifting the 2012 National Women's League championship.
"We are definitely looking to improve on our third place showing we had last year and we are looking to win the whole thing," Leith added.
Leith and the BC provincial side play Ontario in round one of the 2012 NWL Finals this Thursday, June 28 at 12:00pm Eastern time.
For more information on the NWL Finals visit www.nwlrugby.com
BC Senior Women - 2012
Name - position (club)
Jocelyn Barrieau - Wing/Scrum Half (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Christina Burnham - Scrum Half (Simon Fraser University)
Sarah Byers - Lock (Simon Fraser University)
Amanda Campbell - Fly Half (Velox Valkyries)
Kim Donaldson - Hooker/Prop (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Marlene Donaldson - Prop (Velox Valyries)
Jessica Dovanne - Wing/Centre (Velox Valkyries)
Sarah Gordon - Fly Half (Bayside Athletic Association)
Corinne Jacobsen - Prop (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Shannon Kane - Back Row (Velox Valkyries)
Sagal-Marie Kahin - Lock (Meraloma Rugby Club)
Jozefina Kola - Centre (United Rugby Club)
Hilary Leith - Prop (Capilano RFC)
Devon Luca - Scrum Half (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Carolyn McEwen -Prop (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Alicia Noger - Lock/Back Row (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Jesse Olynyk - Back Row (Velox Valkyries)
Paniz Pahlavanlu - Back Row/Back (United Rugby Club)
Samantha Robb - Back Row (Velox Valkyries)
Stevi Schnoor - Centre (United Rugby Club)
Julia Sugawara - Fly Half (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Natalie Tam - Wing/Scrum Half (Velox Valkyries)
Brittany Waters - Full Back/Centre (Meraloma Rugby Club)
Emily Young - Wing (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Head Coach - Pat Fleck
Assistant Coach - Rhodri Hanmer
Manager - Chelsey Minter
Athletic Therapist - Monique Charbonneau