A trio of local athletes represented their province well on the pitch at the 2018 U18 Western Canadian Rugby Championship.
Virden’s Taya Hayward and Elkhorn’s Mikayla Frattinger helped the female provincial team compile a 2-2 record and secure bronze medals at the Winnipeg event.
Matt Elliott of Virden was a part of the Manitoba boys team that went 1-4 and placed sixth at the 15-aside Aug. 9-12 tournament.
Hayward said competing in the prestigious Western Canadians, “gave me a chance to play a higher level of rugby, which I learned a lot from. As well, the rugby community has been great and I have met so many new people and made some great friends through this event.”
Best in west
The recent championships brought the best U18 players in the western provinces together. Elliott, who was on the provincial team last year, said “The level of play was a challenge.”
All three area products on the provincial teams are going into Grade 12. Virden Collegiate students Elliott and Hayward, as well as Elkhorn School’s Frattinger, all suited up in the high school rugby ranks for Souris.
Elliott has played the sport for more than a decade. Meanwhile, Frattinger and Hayward are newcomers.
“With this being my first year, there has been lots I’ve learned about this sport,” Frattinger said. “There are many things I enjoy about rugby. It’s an awesome feeling when I get the ball and dodge through competitors to earn a 'try' for our team. I like that it’s a team sport and I've liked meeting a different group of girls that I have never played with before.”
Elliott, the son of Jeff and Lauree, had the opportunity this year to be teammates with his younger brother Shawn on the Souris high school team. The elder sibling was named the squad’s Rookie of the Year.
The Souris coach said Matt’s technical strengths are “his foot speed - both with and without the ball, and his ability to make an effective, textbook tackle on players of any size, especially in important game-saving situations.
“Matt combines those technical strengths with a very calm, controlled, confident attitude.”
Frattinger, the daughter of Terri and Trever, played on the wing for the provincial team at Western Canadians.
“The reason we played her there is she has that finishing speed on the outside you look for as a coach,” Team Manitoba head coach Shawn Sarkonak said. “She can stop on a dime and all of a sudden, she’s going in a different direction making her a very elusive and dynamic player.”
Meanwhile, Hayward, the daughter of Shannon and Grant, was used at both inside and outside centre.
“She’s a hard ball runner, has a good pace that sucks players in creating space on the outside for those finishers,” Sarkonak said. “She also has very good cutback/change of angle runs that makes her a dynamic player.”