2014 NSWT RWC Team Induction to Rugby Canada Hall of Fame

Westshore/Velox RFC is proud of the 11 Valkyries who played for the 2014 RWC NSWT in France, listed in bold below.  Of these 27 players listed below, 11 have played as a Valkyrie through the years equaling 40% of the whole 2014 team, with 6 active members during the RWC, which is 22% of the team.  Each Westshore/Velox member listed has their bio listed below the Rugby Canada website article which is reposted  along with their original link.

Rugby Canada article link

2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup Team  
The 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup Team delivered breakout performances in the lead up to and during the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France. This historic group of elite athletes turned in a magical performance in 2014 making it all the way to the Final to be narrowly defeated by England.  Their 2nd place finish is highest Rugby World Cup finish of any Canadian side.  Additionally, six players were named to the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup “Dream Team” as voted by fans from around the globe and following the final, Magali Harvey was named the 2014 IRB Women’s Rugby Player of the Year.

The road to the final game in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) included many remarkable elements, none of which could have coalesced without the combined talent and commitments of the players, coaches, and provincial unions.

Preparations for the 2014 Rugby World Cup included two Nations Cup competitions held in North America in 2011 and 2013, during which the Canadian squad recorded its first and second-ever victories over England.

During the 2014 WRWC pool rounds, having defeated Spain (31-5) and Samoa (42-7), Canada tied England in its third pool round game. This put Canada ahead of New Zealand in the tally of competition points and sent the Canadian squad to the semi-finals.

Canada met France in the semi-final match in front of 20,000 French supporters walking away with a narrow win (18-16) earning a spot in the final. Canada would conclude its historic run with a hard fought 21-9 loss to England. Nevertheless, the team managed to raise the bar to a level never before reached by a Canadian National Rugby team.  In doing so, they captured the hearts and inspired the entire rugby community and sports fans across Canada.

Canada’s 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup Team:  
Kim Donaldson, Mary Jane Kirby, Olivia DeMerchant, Hilary Leith, Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid, Laura Russell, Tyson Beukeboom, Latoya Blackwood, Kayla Mack, Maria Samson, Barbara Mervin, Jacey Murphy, Karen Paquin, Kelly Russell, Stephanie Bernier, Julia Sugawara, Emily Belchos, Julianne Zussman, Andrea Burk, Mandy Marchuk, Amanda Thornborough, Brittany Benn, Jessica Dovanne, Magali Harvey, Brittany Waters, Cindy Nelles, and Elissa Alarie.


Barbara Mervin

Barbara Mervin, a Flanker/Backrow player was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and raised in Peterborough Ontario. She is affiliated with the Peterborough Pagans RFC in Ontario. She won her first provincial title in the U19 Ontario league in 2000.  She attended and played for the Western University Mustangs RFC from 2002-2006, winning the CIS Rookie of the Year award in 2002, and Player of the Year Award in 2005.  While winning 2 CIS National Titles during her time at Western, and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in art history.  She was also selected for the Senior Ontario provincial teams in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 she moved across Canada to Victoria, BC, joining the Velox Valkyries RFC for the past 13 years to present day (2019), earning 6 BC Provincial Championships and 9 BC runner up Finalist appearances.  She has been the team Captain from 2008-2010, and again in 2015-2016.  Moving into the Coaching roles as well in 2017-2018. During these years Barbara made the Rugby Canada national senior team debuting in 2005 against New Zealand and with the Sevens team in 2008 in Amsterdam. She has earned a total of 25 caps for NSWT 15’s and 7 caps for NSWT 7’s play, including winning the Las Vegas 7’s Tournament in 2012  .  She was selected for 3 RWCs, playing in the 2010 in Spain, 2014 in France earning a silver medal for 2nd place finish, and ending with the 2017 RWC in Ireland. Winning Rugby Canada’s Gillian Florence Award in 2015 for the RC Women’s Player of the Year.  She has been a staple on the BC provincial teams since 2007, and has won numerous premier BC provincial championships with the Velox Valkyries’ team.  She established herself in the field of sports modeling career as well, with features such in Beauty of Sports edition for Sportsnet Magazine in 2013.  Barbara is currently married to long time Velox/Westshore Men’s and NSMT alumni player Clay Panga.  She earned a diploma in fashion design from the Pacific Design Academy in Victoria and is now the founder of APTOELLA  RUGBY APPAREL, a rugby clothing line for women. Here is her website; http://aptoella.com/

Eli Alarie

Elissa Alarie grew up in Trio’s- Rivières, Ouebec graduated from Université du Québec à Trois- Rivières with a degree in accounting.  She played for Ste-Anne de Bellevue RFC before moving to Victoria to train with Canada’s Women’s Sevens program. Elissa is one of the veterans, having spent the last decade of her rugby life suiting up for Canada. After breaking in with the U-19 team, she played for the U-23 team before graduating to the Senior National level where she has played for both Canada’s Women’s Fifteens and Canada’s Women’s Sevens Teams.  She made her debut for the national 7’s team in Hong Kong in 2013 and received her first 15’s NSWT cap at National Cup in the same year, where Canada won their first ever tournament title.  She was a member of Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup team that finished second at the 2014 WRWC. In the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, in which she has 11 career tries as of 2016. She was a member of the NSWT for the 2018 RWC.  Elissa joined Westshore RFC in the 2016 season and is still currently tearing up the pitch.  Elissa started playing rugby at age 16, was first intrigued by how rugby brought abilities from many other sports into one. She writes an “A” on the inside of her left wrist for luck… On game day will write down two things she’s grateful for. Favourite motto: Doubt your fears, not your dreams…

Amanda Thornborough

Amanda Thornborough completed her undergraduate studies in Political Science at St. Francis Xavier in NS. Originally from Brandon, Manitoba she has now experienced life on both sides of the country and now lives in Victoria and trains with Velox/Westshore Valkyries when she is not training with the Canada women. Amanda helped the National Women’s Sevens team to an undefeated win at the Hong Kong Sevens Tournament in 2013. Later that year she received her first National Senior Women’s Cap in at the 2013 Nations Cup. Amanda was also featured in the 2014 CAN-AM Series where Canada’s Women defeated USA.  She was a member of Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup team that finished second at the 2014 WRWC, and the 2018 WRWC. Amanda Thornborough was selected for the 2nd time for the Women’s Barbarian Rugby Team, first selected in 2017 and again in 2019. Amanda has been a member of the Velox/Westshore RFC family since 2013.

Jess Dovanne

Jessica Dovanne of Victoria is presently an active member of the Velox Valkyries Women’s rugby team.  She has been playing rugby for over a decade now, having been honored to wear the jersey of many different clubs; Thomas Haney Secondary School, Burnaby Lake RFC, University of Victoria and Velox Valkyries.  She has represented the BC provincial team many teams, as well as playing for 7 caps for the National Senior Women’s 15 and 7’s team.  Her first time playing for Canada was for the NSWT 15’s in the nation’s cup in 2011, against England, USA, and South Africa; where she commented “It is tournaments like this one that are vital to our continued development as players and as a team as they expose us to rugby from all corners of the world.” Jessica was been selected for both the NSW 15’s and 7’s teams for the 2013 season.

Julianne Zussman

Born in Ottawa, Ontario, Julianne Zussman now currently calls Victoria her home, joining the Velox Valkyries Senior Women’s team for the 2013-2015 seasons.  Playing Full back or winger, she has played for the Quebec provincial team since 2005. Julianne debuted with Canada’s XVs team in November 2007 against Scotland and with the Sevens team at the USA Sevens in 2008, including the Rugby World Cup in 2010, earning a total of 15 caps. Julianne holds a Bachelor’s degree in international development from McGill University and was affiliated with the Town of Mount Royal RFC.  She was a member of the NSW 15’s and 7’s teams.  She joined the Oakbay CW RFC team in 2016, where she retired from active playing, and is now a top level referee for BCRU.

Brittany Waters

Brittany Waters a Wing/Center from Vancouver, BC.  Started playing rugby while attending UVIC for her B.A. degree from 2003-2008 for the Vikes Women’s team.  She was named to the CIS All Star Team in 2005.  Which kicked off Brittany into a high performance player, being noticed by Rugby Canada.  She has 16+ caps for National women’s 7’s play from 2007-2014.  Which included 2  7’s RWCs: the inaugural 2009 in Dubai, and the 2013 in Russia winning a silver medal.  She was a member of the centralized 7’s players program for RC in 2013-14.  She earned 26 caps for national 15’s action from 2008-2014, debuting in CAN vs USA in 2008. Including 3 RWC for 15’s: 2010 in England, 2014 in France earning a silver medal, and 2017 in Ireland.  She played club level rugby for UVIC from 2003-2008 in Victoria, Meralomas RFC from 2009-2014 in Vancouver (where she earned her Masters in Occupational Therapy from UBC), Velox Valkyries 2014-2015 and Oakbay CW from 2016-2017 again in Victoria before retiring from play in Dec 2017.  Brittany started coaching in 2011 for UVIC as an assistant Coach, before taking the reigns as head coach in 2015, where she was named Canada West Coach of the year.  Her teams went on to win Canada West Championships in 7’s action in 2015 and 2018, and National university title in 2017.

Latoya Blackwood

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.

Laura Russell

Laura Russell is a Prop from Bolton, Ontario.  She is the Sister of Kelly Russell, also NSWT member. She played for the Toronto Nomads RFC before attending Western University Mustangs rugby team while gaining her secondary education. Moved to Victoria, BC playing for Velox Valkyries in 2010-2011. She has 44 caps for Canada National Team, winning the RC Women’s Player of the Year award in 2016.  She has played many games representing Canada 7’s action, Captaining the squad into the RWC 7’s in 2016. She has made selections for 2 different RWC’s 15’s in 2014 silver medal finish and again in 2017 as Captain.  She has been with Cowichan RFC for the past 4-5 years, while also performing as an assistant coach for UVIC.

Kelly Russell

Kelly Russell is #8/Loose Forward from Bolton, Ontario.  Sister of Laura Russell, also NSWT member. She played for the Toronto Nomads RFC before attending Western University Mustangs rugby team while gaining  her secondary education. Moved to Victoria, BC playing for Velox Valkyries from 2009-2011.  This was the start of her playing for Canada with the National 7’s team starting in 2009 until 2016, earning numerous caps, including 2 RWC in 2009 and a silver medal finish in 2013.  She was also the Captain for CAN 7’s team for the gold medal win for the 2015 PAN/AM Games, and the 2016 Olympic team that won bronze. Kelly’s Canada 15′ action has seen her collect 53 caps, winning RC Women’s 15’s Player of the Year award in 2013.   She played in 3 RWC in 2010 (named to RWC All-Star Squad), as Captain in 2014 with a silver medal 2nd place finish, and in 2017.  Where she made the inaugural International Barbarians Team also in 2017.  She retired from playing in the end of 2017. She moved back to Toronto and is coaching for the Nomads RFC and for Canada’s National 7’s Academy Team.

Emily Belchos

A native of  Innisfill, Ontario, Belchos began playing rugby in high school where she attended Barrie Central  Collegiate, eventually winning the OFSAA championship in 2013. Her play at Barrie Central opened the doors to playing provincially for Ontario’s U20 team. Belchos made her Senior National Team debut during the 2013-14 Women’s Sevens World Series when she was named to the roster for the first round in Dubai. She has also received caps with Canada’s Women’s Fifteens Team, playing a key role in Canada’s second place finish at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup. She also toured New Zealand with the Canadian team in June 2014 in a test match tour against the Black Ferns and the Wallaroos, playing fly half as she did for Markham Irish RFC in Ontario.  Paying for Westshore RFC starting in the 2016-18 seasons.

Mary Jane Kirby

Mary Jane Kirby plays Hooker position from Brampton, Ontario.  She started playing with the Brampton Beavers RFC from 2006-09 for age grade teams and into senior action.  She made the Ontario U18 and U20 provincial teams during these times, before moving on to the Brantford Harlequins RFC in 2010.  She went to and played for the University of Guelph RFC from 2010-2012.  After leaving the school with a B.A. degree, She continued to coach the forwards for the rugby team in 2013, where she played his season for the Highlanders RFC until 2014.  Mary Jane moved to Victoria in 2014 playing for the Westshore Valkyries for club action until 2016.  During her time in Victoria, she was selected for the National Women’s Team earning 30+ caps, including 2 RWC in 2014 in France winning silver medal and in 2017 in Ireland.  Currently she is living in Ontario as the Ontario Representative for Aptoella Rugby clothing, owned by NSWT teammate Barbara Mervin.

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