From one field to another

Three years after picking up the game, Bronwyn Corrigan is now a rugby star

Corrigan (right) finished second in OUA regular season scoring in 2012 — then topped the league in individual points during the playoffs.
Corrigan (right) finished second in OUA regular season scoring in 2012 — then topped the league in individual points during the playoffs.

Many former soccer players convert to football, but few turn to rugby. Gaels fourth-year lock Bronwyn Corrigan is a rare exception to the rule.

Even more impressive is the fact that Corrigan, an OUA All-Star for Queen’s in 2012, only started playing rugby three years ago.

In that time, she’s gone from high school soccer all-star to promising rookie rower to the second-highest scorer of the 2012 OUA women’s rugby season.

While many outside observers think of rugby as a violent sport with hard hits and little else, Corrigan said she fell in love with the little intricacies of the game.

“Rugby is a very dynamic game with so many elements to it, and I like how it’s the ultimate team sport. You can’t really have individual stars on the team, unlike in soccer,” she said. “It’s definitely a thinking game and you need to be able to read the game to figure out which strategies will work.”

A former youth soccer player, Corrigan originally made Queen’s novice rowing roster in her first year. She soon had second thoughts, though, and decided not to continue with the sport. She joined the Kingston Panthers rugby program that summer and became acquainted with Gaels assistant coach Vicki Wilson, who encouraged her to try out to play for Queen’s.

“At first, I thought I was never going to make the team,” Corrigan said with a laugh. “But I made the team, and it was great that everyone was so helpful in that first training camp at Queen’s.”

The Waterloo native is now one of Queen’s veteran leaders, with the Gaels currently ranked third in the CIS.

A member of Ontario’s under-23 provincial squad, Corrigan is thriving in her new leadership role, teaching the younger Gaels the tricks of the trade as they were passed down to her just a few summers ago.

“Being one of the oldest players on the team, I like being able to transfer the knowledge that I’ve gained from my coaches over the past few years to the younger players,” said Corrigan.

One person who remembers Corrigan as a wide-eyed beginner to the sport is Gaels head coach Beth Barz. According to Barz, it was evident that Corrigan was a special athlete from the very first time she put on a Queen’s rugby uniform.

“It was obvious that she had all the physical attributes, so moving on from there, we knew that we just had to teach her rugby skills for her to succeed,” Barz said. “It’s one thing to be able to teach it, but it’s another thing to have someone who really wants to learn.”

While last season was highly successful for Corrigan and her team, the Gaels are hoping to take the next step this year and capture the OUA championship, after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Guelph in last year’s title game.

Barz said that Corrigan will play a big role in the club’s collective championship effort.

“Bronwyn is a pretty incredible leader. She leads through example and often succeeds through sheer determination,” Barz said.

“She’s highly intelligent, she plays the game really well and she’s clearly one of the key veterans on this team.”

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