Okotokian China-bound with Team Canada
Rugby: Jenna Morrison to represent her country at Youth Olympics
By: Bruce Campbell
| Posted: Thursday, Jun 26, 2014 04:08 pm
An Okotoks rugby player has proved to be a quick study.
Jenna Morrison has gone from being a rookie Holy Trinity Academy Knight just two seasons ago to being named to Team Canada U-18 for rugby 7s at the Women’s Youth Olympics Games in Nanjing, China, Aug. 16-28.
“I found out a couple of weeks ago I made the team and I was very surprised,” Morrison said. “I was overwhelmed.”
Morrison, who is a back with the Holy Trinity Academy Knights and the Calgary Rams (15-players teams), will play hook or prop for Team Canada in China, according to U-18 Team Canada coach John Tait.
“She isn’t in a speed position per se but as a strong, physical girl she will be used as one of our prop forwards to retain the ball,” Tait said. “Everyone on the field has some speed, but her job is to free up some of our speed players.”
Morrison was identified at a camp in Lethbridge last summer (similar camps were held across the country).
“We were looking for speed, size, power — things like that because the rugby skills can be developed down the road,” Tait said. “At the international level, if you don’t have the speed capability, you really can’t go on the field.”
Especially in 7s.
“Fifteens is like a 1,500m race while 7s is like a 200m race,” Tait explained. “I compare it to a full-ice hockey game that is three-on-three.”
“With 7s it’s a lot less rucking and scrums, but more ball-handling and rucking,” she said.
Morrison has the speed and the power to play 7s. She was a sprinter for the HTA track team in the spring but couldn’t compete in the South Central zone finals because she had a Team Canada tryout in Victoria.
As for strength, Morrison has been on a Rugby Canada weightlifting program throughout the winter at Canada Olympic Park.
“I have been doing a lot of weight training,” Morrison said. “I go twice a week at COP and do my own training.”
Morrison, who graduated this week, didn’t put on a pair of rugby cleats until two years ago as a Grade 10 student with the HTA Knights.
“I didn’t play a lot in Grade 10, but I got to play a lot in Grade 11,” Morrison said. “HTA was my first rugby team and coaches Jordan Smith and Darcy Gallant helped me a lot.”
Morrison saw limited action with the South Central zone championship Knights this spring due to concerns of wear-and-tear on her body as she prepares for the Youth Olympics.
The hardest part of making Team Canada might have been keeping it a secret. Morrison played in the South Central zone final against Foothills Comp and the provincial championships without telling her HTA teammates until an official announcement was made on June 25.
“I couldn’t tell anyone — only my parents,” she said with a laugh. “It was tough to keep in my excitement, but I knew it was worth it.
“I didn’t want to risk anything.”
She will be on one the top teams at the Games, according to Tait.
“I expect Canada and Australia to be the two strong teams,” Tait said. “At this age we have more girls playing rugby than any other country in the world.”
For more information about the U-18 team go to www.rugbycanada.ca