Westshore RFC Coaches 2018-2019 Season


Aaron, originally from NZ, first joined Velox Valhallians in 2004 at the Gordon Head facilities as a starting player on the Men’s Premier teams, continuing to play on both Premier and 1st Div teams until 2015 in the backfield and full back. During this time he started his coaching career in 2004 with age grade teams for the youth/junior programs for Velox in the grass root era coaching every team up to and including U18’s. Aaron was part of the Executive Council as the Director of Rugby Operations for 2 years from 2009-2011, before taking over as the Head Coach for the Velox Premier Women’s Valkyries team, leading them to a BCRU Provincial Title in 2011. He has represented four Super League teams as a player over his career: Crimson Tide, Vancouver Island Raiders, Calgary Mavericks and the Prairie Fire. Aaron took on the role as Player/Head Coach for the first time for the Velox Men’s program from 2011-2014, winning both the VIRU Times and Cowichan Cups, with multiple semi-final BCRU Provincial finalists during this time frame. He was then selected by BCRU Staff as Head Coach to lead provincial teams, starting in 2015 with the BC Men’s and Women’s Next Gen 7’s Teams, and BC Women’s 15’s Team: positions he continues presently to this day. Which lead to him to be included as the 2018 Crimson Tide Men’s 15’s co-Coach. During the past 3 years Aaron has again taken on his Player/Coach role leading the Westshore Velox 3rd Div Men’s team to back to back BCRU Provincial Champions for 2017 & 2018 seasons.

When asked about his coaching history listed above, he responded “I started my coaching career at Velox in 2004 with age grade teams, coaching every team from the U18s, Third div men, premier women and the top men’s side at the club over a 9 year period. After some successful years coaching provincial 7s and 15s programs, it’s great to be able to step back into the club at an exciting time at Westshore.” When asked further on the direction of the club, he stated “Things are starting to click at the club with the premier women on top, the third div on top and the men returning to the Premiership, everything is heading in the right direction at Westshore. We have a core group of players within the men’s program that can start to make waves in the premier division and I’m excited to see what they can do this coming season.”



Nanyak Ponzin Gideon Dala was born in the central plateau state in the city of Jos, Nigeria in early 1980’s.  Moving to the city of Durban, located in the eastern province of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa with his family at the age of 12 in 1996. It was here that he started playing rugby for Glenwood high school team in the #8 position, lacing up for the Glenwood Falcons – the High School Old Boys team as well.  Nanyak quickly achieved selection for higher play for age grade levels representing Kwazulu-Natal provincial teams through much of his high school years, and being selected as the MVP for the provincial U20 team in 2003.

His family immigrated to North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada also in 2003 due his father’s profession in the medical field. Where in 2004 at the age of 20 he moved to nearby Saskatoon to start his higher education at the University of Saskatchewan.  Nanyak continued his love for rugby again joining the Saskatoon Wild Oats RFC as a Flanker for the next 4 years, reaching the provincial finals with his team every year, and capturing the provincial champions in 2005.  He was a member of the Saskatchewan Prairie Fire in the Rugby Canada Super League (RCSL) for the 2005 to 2007 seasons where they were the Western Champions and runner ups for the national title each year, and winning the McTier Cup as National Champs in 2007.  Nanyak had caught the eye of Rugby Canada (RC) through all this hard work, but passed up the opportunity to go to the Rugby World Cup (RWC) in 2007, choosing to finish his studies instead, graduating with a Bachelor of Commence in early 2008.

Nanyak moved to Victoria, BC in 2008 to continue his playing career with RC, as he started playing club rugby for the Oakbay Castaway Wanders in premier Men’s action as a flanker, winning the Rounsfell Cup as the BC premier league provincial champions in 2011.  During this time Nanyak was also a member of the newly formed Canadian Rugby Championship (CRC) (replacement for the RCSL) Prairie Wolf Pack team from 2010-2016, winning the McTier Cup as a national champion once again in 2015, with achieving runner up for 5 additional years at this level.

Nanyak joined the RC national 15s team with his 1st cap on 02 Jun 2007 at the Churchill Cup in Twickenham, England with a sound win over the USA.  He continued to represent Canada at 2 Rugby World Cups (RWC) in both 2011 and 2015, earning 37 caps and scoring 4 international tries before playing his last 15s match on 6 Oct 2015 with a win over Romania.  Nanyak was also a member of Canadas National 7s team at the same time starting in 2008, playing in the 2010 Common Wealth Games in India, and winning a gold medal in Mexico at the 2011 Pan Am Games.  He played in the RWC for 7’s action in both 2009 in Dubai and 2013 in Russia, captaining the team from 2012-2013 seasons. Finishing his last international 7s game for Canada in Sydney, Australia in Feb 2016.

He coached at St. Michaels High School from 2008 through to 2017 focusing on grades 10-12. As well at CW in the 2017-2018 season as an assistant Coach and player for Men’s premier action. Before joining Westshore Velox RFC for the start of the 2018-2019 season as a an assistant/forwards coach.

Nanyak was self-employed as a contractor for RC over the past many years, before currently working for Capital City Fire and Safety as a Fire and Safety Technician.  He is very passionate about junior development and involvement, looking forward to growing the junior catchment of players in the Westshore area through club and schools academy programs with the grass root rugby type of sessions. He is enthusiastic when asked his thoughts, stating “Was excited to work with some top rugby minds and people to help build a strong rugby foundation in the Westshore, spearheaded by the ME’s and championship winning Women’s premier teams at Westshore RFC.”


Shannon Houston was born in Victoria in the 80’s and a graduate of Glen Lyon School in the late 90’s. She played for the Velox Valkyries from 1998-2001, before shifting to UVIC from 2001-2003 as she worked on her undergrad degree in Biology. During these years Shannon made the Crimson Tide and BC Provincial teams demonstrating her ability to play at the higher levels. She has duel citizen ship: both Canada and Irish due to her Grandparents from Cork Ireland. This assisted her move to Ireland in 2004 not just to retrace her family’s heritage, but to go to medical school to earn her medical degree from the University College in Dublin. Upon arriving in Ireland in 2004 she played for Blackrock RFC before joining Leinster RFC as her club where she played until 2013. Demonstrating she was very capable of international action Shannon debuted in 2006 for her 1st cap at Women’s World Cup 15’s for Ireland verses France, in Edmonton Canada. She continued on to earn 32 caps for Ireland playing 15’s from 2006-2013. In 2009 Shannon earned her Medical Degree and worked as a physician in Navan, Ireland. She balanced surgical rotations as an intern with 100+ hours a week, while training for the national Irish team, displaying her drive for both work and play. Once certified as a doctor, she would work in the clinic in mornings, and train in afternoons with national 7’s teams assisting Ireland’s Rio Olympics bid. During this time she participated in weight lifting competitions in Ireland while also competing on national teams for rugby. She spent the last 3 years from 2013-2016 playing 7’s for Irelands National team. An essential team member for the Irish 7’s winning Quarter finals in RWC 7’s in Moscow in Jun 2013, she continued as the Captain for the team during the Dubai 7’s as she continued over the next 2 years. Coming full circle, she finished her playing career on the Irish 7’s team at Canada 7’s World Rugby Women’s Sevens in Victoria in Apr 16 at 36 years old!!! She retired from the playing circuit due to a neck injury that prevented her from lacing up again. Shannon moved back to Victoria in the fall of 2016 to join her brother as GP Doctors taking over their Fathers family practice in Dec 16. She joined Westshore Velox RFC shortly thereafter and assisted with the women’s program as an assistant coach from Feb-May 2017. Shannon was also the Team Doctor for Canada’s NSWT for 2017 RWC in Ireland in Aug, her 2 homes combining interests once again. She took the reigns as Head Coach for the Westshore Valkyries leading them to a BCRU Premier Women’s Provincial Championship title.

When Shannon was asked in an interview a few years back “What her favorite part of playing rugby was, her response was: “There are probably 2 main reasons why I love this game so much. The 1st is the challenge of it every game you have to push yourself mentally and physically, and the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. You have to go beyond your comfort zone and really test yourself. It’s so different from other sports you could get by in a soccer or basketball match without really ever committing yourself. But in rugby you have to commit 100% or you are not going to put your whole body on the line to make every tackle or break through each gap. When the whistle blows at the end of the match, and you are completely exhausted because you have managed to leave everything on the field, you know you have pushed your limits and have truly tested yourself. The 2nd reason is the friends I have made through this sport. I have met so many amazing people playing both in Canada and in Ireland.”

Westshore RFC is truly lucky and honoured to have such an established and capable leader re-join our team, to once again come full circle back to where she started as she continues as Westshore Velox RFC Women’s Head Coach since the 2018/2019 season, resulting in a BC Provincial Championship title last year!!


Latoya is from Montreal and played with St. Anne de Bellevue RFC, and attended the University of Western Ontario and Concordia University. In 2012 she received Concordia’s Fittest Athletes of  the Year award. Blackwood received her first cap at Nations Cup in 2013 and helped Canada capture their first ever tournament title as a Lock. Latoya was nominated for 2013 Women’s Fifteens Player of the Year and also featured in the 2014 CAN-AM Series where Canada’s Women defeated USA.  She played a key role as a member of Canada’s Women’s World cup silver medallists in 2015. In the same year, she signed on professionally with European powerhouse French club Stade Toulousain RFC.  She has 31 caps for Canada on the NSWT. Latoya now resides in Victoria, playing for Westshore RFC starting in the 2016 season.  She retired from playing in 2018 and taking up the whistle as a BCRU referee, She now is the assistant coach for the Westshore Valkyries Women’s team.  Of note she is married to long time Velox Valkyrie Charlotte Haley.