Training for the top

Pair of Queen's athletes members of national program

Emma Chown (right) scored twelve tries for the Gaels this year.
Emma Chown (right) scored twelve tries for the Gaels this year.
Journal File Photo

Six sessions a week would seem like a busy enough off-season for most women’s rugby players, but two Gaels have added extra field time with hopes of stepping up their game.

Third-year Emma Chown and first-year Geneviève Kasa-vubu have been participating in the Rugby Canada 7s Ontario U20 Regional Development Program this year. 

After the pair was scouted into the program to represent Canada at the senior women’s level, they’ve moved into a routine of travelling several times a month to Guelph for this added practice.

“Moving up a level demands more from me,” Kasa-vubu said. “The challenge is sharpening skills and breaking bad habits.”

While Kasa-vubu played on the 7s roster at the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games, this will be Chown’s first time representing Canada at the international level.

While Chown’s now in her final year of the U20 program, Kasa-vubu’s involvement can still continue for two more seasons.

Chown said there’s room for more Queen’s players to get recruited into the program — including the team’s 13 other rookies.

“A lot of them have really great potential for 7s,” she said.

While Rugby Canada primarily targets players at the university level, many top high school talents — among them Kasa-vubu in her first time competing — are included in the development program, which Chown said helps to diversify the team.

Chown says while the dynamic in the program is competitive, it’s also friendly. One of the highlights of the program for Chown has been developing friendships with players she’s previously only known as foes. 

“You get to know them on a more personal level,” she said. 

Chown’s greatest offensive strengths on the field come from her speed and elusiveness, as was seen in her game-winning try in the 2015 CIS quarterfinal over Acadia.

Running down the sideline and touching the ball in the far corner, Chown made the try after evading a trio of Acadia defenders. Such momentum helps her thrive in the 7s game.

“You’ve got a lot of space to run, it’s a good game for me,” she said, adding that the seven-minute halves opposed to the 40-minute halves in the 15-a-side format allow for more running to take place due to a lesser focus on fatigue.

Queen’s own 7s team, made up of 12 of the athletes from the main squad, heads to Burnaby, BC next month for the Canadian University Championship.

And while the team’s looking to return from that event with some hardware, it’s admittedly the main fall season that the team holds in the highest regard. 

“I just want to have a really successful year next year,” Chown said. “Our goal is always CIS gold.”


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