Best of both worlds

Gill Pegg star on rugby field, OUA Champion on wrestling mat

Pegg celebrates her OUA championship victory.
Pegg celebrates her OUA championship victory.
Supplied by Colin Crowell

It’s rare that an athlete takes on two varsity sports, but for the final year of her undergrad, Gill Pegg was up for the challenge.

Having already been a women’s rugby CIS silver medalist and First-Team All-Star this past fall, Pegg recently added an OUA gold medal to her trophy case for wrestling in the 82 kilogram category two weeks ago. 

On the rugby field, Pegg’s developed a reputation as a standout defensive player, but it was only recently that she picked up a secondary sport.

Beginning wrestling training at Queen’s last spring for the first time since high school, Pegg admits she had her reservations about adding a second varsity sport to her schedule. 

“I was nervous coming to competitions because I knew it’d been such a long time since [I last] wrestled,” she said. “I went into it just confident in myself as an athlete. Luckily it turned out for the best for me.”

Pegg continues on this upcoming weekend at the CIS championships at Brock University, as the only Queen’s athlete represented.

But while her wrestling campaign has been successful, managing two varsity sports in one school year comes with it challenges.

“I don’t really get a break,” she said. “My body starts taking a toll.”

Her wrestling career began after she transferred away from Eastview Secondary School to Barrie Central Collegiate Institute to play for a more competitive rugby team. It was at her new school that she discovered wrestling for the first time, and developed an affinity for the sport.

She finds  that one of the biggest differences between the two sports is the team focus of rugby compared to the individuality of wrestling. 

“[With rugby], if you’re having a bad day, they’re there to help you up. You’re all going for the same outcome,” she said. “With wrestling, you can turn to your teammates, but there’s not so much they can really do to help you push through your match. It’s really all on you.”

But for all the two sport’s differences, there are some undeniable similarities and benefits to playing the two together. 

“Contact is definitely a big aspect in rugby and in wrestling. I found it transferred really well, especially tackling,” she said. “The quickness of wrestling helped in rugby, being quick to my feet, being fast in breakdowns.”

Pegg said once she returned to the wrestling mat, it wasn’t long before she redeveloped her skills. 

“It was kind of like riding a bicycle. The moves came back to me. It was muscle memory at that point.”

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