Vancouver, BC – September 10, 2019: BC Rugby is delighted to announce the first four recipients of the Representative Player Bursary program. Each recipient is awarded a $2,500 bursary to assist them in achieving their national and international rugby goals. The 2019/20 Representative Player Bursary recipients are:
Emma Feldinger – UBC Thunderbirds (Alexis Creek, BC)
Josiah Levale – Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford, BC)
Talon McMullin – Earl Marriot Senior Secondary (Surrey, BC)
Shoshanah Seumanutafa – UBC Thunderbirds (Surrey, BC)
Collectively, these four players have a wealth of rugby experience at the provincial level including multiple selections to BC Representative XVs and Sevens teams. Furthermore, they have all been invited to play with Rugby Canada in U18 and U20 programs in the last twelve months, identifying them as some of the most promising young rugby talents in BC.
“No player in this province should be restricted from pursuing their rugby goals on the grounds of financial constraints, which is exactly why the Representative Player Bursary program was conceived,” said BC Rugby CEO Annabel Kehoe. “We have a rich history in this province of supplying our national men’s and women’s rugby teams with top athletes and, thanks to the generosity of many in our rugby community, we are proud to be able to support players and ensure that they don’t miss out on the opportunity to represent their province and country due to costs.”
National rugby is very much in the spotlight just now with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan just days away, as well as both the men’s and women’s Rugby Sevens teams having qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. BC players can presently be found peppered across all four Canadian National rugby teams, from Caroline Crossley and Olympic medal winner Kayla Moleschi to household names like Phil Mack and Harry Jones to name a few.
BC Representative teams had a strong year in 2018/19 bringing, claiming podium positions at a slew of competitions including the Las Vegas Sevens Invitational, Vancouver Sevens Invitational, U16 and U18 Western Championships. “There is a real wave of talent at the top end of our Age-Grade programs at the moment with many of them already on the radar of national team selectors,” comments Aaron Takel, Manager for Rugby Growth and Development (Men & Boys) at BC Rugby. “In these key years post high school, athletes have a number of demands on their time and resources. We owe it to our most promising young players to do everything we can to keep rugby accessible and remove potential barriers to competing at the highest levels.”
Speaking with the recipients themselves, all four were hugely gracious to receive these bursaries. “To represent your Nation is the ultimate experience,” said Emma Feldinger, “the ability to put on that Rugby Canada jersey and walk out onto the pitch is a feeling like none other”. Feldinger, hailing from Alexis Creek near Williams Lake, is yet another rugby star from a region that has already produced several national team stars including Jake Ilnicki and Kayla Moleschi. “Rugby means so much to me and I want to prove to my family, friends and coaches who have supported me this whole way that it wasn’t a waste of time. Receiving this bursary will help me focus on rugby and not just making ends meet.” Feldinger, along with fellow bursary recipient and UBC Thunderbird teammate Shoshanah Seumanutafa, were both capped on the Canada U20 Women’s XV tour to England earlier this year.
Talon McMullin, a rising star from Surrey who plays for Earl Marriot Secondary, echoed this sentiment, stating “Nothing is better than coming home from the U18 Canada Tour this year and my parents telling me how proud they are of me. When I put the Canadian Jersey on I think of all the work I have done and all the things other people have done for me.” Abbotsford RFC player Josiah Levale, who’s sister Tausani was part of the Gold Medal winning Canada Women’s Sevens team at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, has high hopes to make a similar impact at the national level. “I want to compete and play at the highest level of rugby that I can,” said Josiah, “Rugby means everything to me, representing not just my country but my family too. Receiving this bursary means I can continue to pursue the opportunities for me to grow and develop as a player.”
All of the recipients received praise and support from coaches within the Rugby Canada programs, sighting not only the physical skill and ability of the athletes on the field but their attitude and dedication off-field. “One of the things that we continually remind our athletes is that it is not what they do while they’re at camp that will make them an international rugby player, it is what they do in their own environments,” said Scott Manning, Canada U18 Boys’ Assistant Coach.
The BC Rugby Representative Player Bursary is made possible through the generous donations from members of the public. BC Rugby hopes to continue to provide this vital financial assistance to talented players for many years to come. If you’d like to support the continuation of the BC Rugby Representative Player Bursary program by donating, please visit the dedicated account held by the National Sport Trust Fund HERE. Donations receive a charitable tax receipt.
Stay tuned to the BC Rugby website and social media channels over the coming weeks for interviews with each recipient as we delve into their rugby careers, aspirations and what it is that drives them to succeed.