VANCOUVER, BC - Hilary Leith's aspirations of suiting up for Canada at the 2014 Women's Rugby World Cup took a significant step forward this past year as the Capilano RFC product spent a year plying her trade with London's Saracens RFC. The former collegiate wrestler and provincial team standout has returned for the summer and will join the British Columbia senior women's provincial program in their quest for their first national championship since 2010.
With a year of playing amongst the top women's players in the world, Leith will look to make an impression on national team selectors and hopefully crack Canada's roster for the upcoming Women's Nation's Cup in August.
"The Saracens were an amazing club to play for and it was a really easy transition into the squad," Leith said of her first season in England. "The level of rugby over there is definitely different as you are playing against international players week in and week out and it has been amazing. I have learned so much this past year and have so much more to learn!"
Playing alongside Canadian national team rep Mandy Marchak made the move easier, Leith says, crediting her fellow Capilano for making the move as smooth as it was.
"Mandy has been a key part of me coming over and playing for the Saracens. She talked so highly of the rugby in England and once I got over there I could see why," Leith added. "Mandy is such a dominant player in the women's rugby scene and it was great playing alongside her again this past year."
The season didn't quite go as Leith had hoped as the Saracens ended up finishing 5th in the English Premiership. But with plenty of rugby ahead of her, the 29-year-old is already relishing the opportunity to go back for a second round.
"We were a young squad last year and lost a few of the veterans but we saw it as a rebuilding year and plan on next season being different," Leith added. "We have a few girls coming back from injury and with it being the year before a World Cup, more top level players will be returning."
it's been a productive year for the utility forward who can play both in the front and second rows. Leith went up against numerous internationals as the Saracens regularly competed against the likes of London Wasps, Richmond, Lichfield, Worcester and Thurrock.
With her first season in the books, Leith has returned to Vancouver and can now focus her attention on lifting a national title.
"The plan is to now compete in and win the NWL," Leith added. "Team BC is looking great this year with a really good mix of veterans and young, new talent. We have been training hard and looking to bring the title back to BC."
British Columbia will be competing in the Premier Division of this year's NWL Finals against Alberta, Quebec and reigning national champions Ontario. Their first match is set for Thursday, June 27th against Alberta at UBC's Wolfson Fields.
For more information on the NWL Finals visit www.nwlrugby.com
BC Sr Women Premier Schedule
Thurs. June 27, 1:30pm: BC vs Alberta (Wolfson Fields, UBC)
Fri. June 28, 1:30pm: BC vs Quebec (Wolfson Fields, UBC)
Sun. June 30, 12:30pm: BC vs Ontario (Wolfson Fields, UBC)
BC Senior Women Roster
Lynzi Anderson (Velox Valkyries)
Marie-Eve Brindamour-Carignan (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC)
Christina Burnham (Simon Fraser University Rugby)
Sarah Byers (Simon Fraser University Rugby)
Laura Crowe-Hutchon (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Kim Donaldson (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Jessica Dovanne (Velox Valkyries)
Marlene Donaldson (Velox Valkyries)
Jessica Firman (Simon Fraser University Rugby)
Haley Glendinning (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Tanya Leigh (Bayside Athletic Association)
Hilary Leith (Saracens RFC / Capilano RFC)
Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Selina McGinnis (Velox Valkyries)
Barbara Mervin (Velox Valkyries)
Britta Peterson (Nanaimo Hornets RFC)
Maggie Ritchie (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Brittany Sims (Velox Valkyries)
Courtney Sims (Velox Valkyries)
Demi Stamatakis (Simon Fraser University Rugby)
Julia Sugawara © (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
December Turcato-Woodward (Simon Fraser University Rugby)
Emily Young (Kamloops Rugby Club / Burnaby Lake Rugby Club)
Head Coach - Pat Fleck
Assistant Coach - Walt Brandl
Manager - Roko Kapaiwai
Athletic Therapist - Jessica Smith