Ontario Storm Women’s Rugby Win National Championship

Ontario Storm Win National Championship


Ontario’s senior provincial women’s rugby team win National Women’s League Championship in front of home support, outscore opponents 178-64 at six-day national competition (July 29 – Aug. 3) in Ottawa.


(OTTAWA, ON) – The Ontario Storm ensured they would be keeping the 2014 National Women’s League Championship trophy on home provincial soil, after going undefeated at the national competition held July 29 – Aug. 3 at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Ottawa.

The Storm’s blemish-free championship was won in dominant fashion, with Ontario finishing the round-robin style tournament with a perfect 4-0 record over their provincial opponents.

After defeating the Atlantic Selects 62-5 to open the NWL Championship on July 30, the Storm then dispatched of 2013 champions Québec 32-22, ousted the Prairies 57-27, and ended the tournament with an exclamation-point victory over British Columbia, 27-10.

“I’m very pleased with the way the players bought in to what the coaching staff were trying to do this year,” said Storm head coach Kevin Jones. “Right from our first tryout back in May, we laid out our expectations, and our players responded brilliantly. They’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point, and have earned the trophy they proudly lifted earlier today.”

Ontario has either won or finished as runners up in every national championship held since the inaugural NWL Championship in 2007, and at this year’s competition, the Storm used their superior size and speed to outscore their opponents 178-64 in their four undefeated matches. 

The Storm’s scoring touch was spread throughout the side, as six Ontarians finished in the Top-10 list of tournament scorers: Cindy Nelles (T-3rd – 20 points), Sydney Mann (T-5th – 18 points), Stephanie Black (T-7th – 16 points), along with Rebecca Gannon, Katie Svoboda and Sara Svoboda (all T-9th – 15 points).

After notching four tries in Ontario’s first two matches, Storm captain Nelles (Oakville Crusaders) looked poised to claim the NWL scoring title, before her tournament was cut short: on the morning of Aug. 2, it was announced that the Belleville native had been called up to the Canadian national team currently competing at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, to serve as a replacement for the injured Barbara Mervin, a fellow Ontarian.

Despite losing their captain for the latter half of the tournament, Jones was impressed with the maturity of his side and their ability to pull together to ensure their winning momentum did not cease.

“We have players from 18 years of age to 26, and it didn’t ever seem like there was an age gap amongst them,” said Jones. “Many of these players regularly compete against one another at the club level, but they came together as one team for this competition. They played with one another, and played for one another, and that’s the most pleasing thing for me.”

In Ontario’s national title-clinching victory over British Columbia, it was the west coast province’s wing Selina McGinnis that opened the scoring with an unconverted try in the corner, touching down just minutes before the Storm’s Katie Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs) crossed the line to even the score at 5-5.

The majority of the first half remained deadlocked, with stalwart defensive play by both sides limiting scoring chances. However, an Ontario scoring blitz in the final five minutes of the frame saw hooker Gillian Pegg (Aurora Barbarians) and centre Sarah Guttin (Waterloo County) both score tries, giving Ontario a 17-5 lead heading into the interval.

British Columbia back Samantha Kreeger-Atwell opened the scoring in the second half, cutting Ontario’s advantage to 17-10, but that was as close as the visiting side would come to regaining their short-lived lead. Well-worked second-half tries by substitute Misha Maric (Markham Irish) and Katie Svoboda padded the Storm’s lead, and at the final whistle, Ontario walked off the pitch as 27-10 victors and tournament champions.

For more information on the NWL Championship, please visit: http://www.nwlrugby.com/

Ontario Storm Score Report vs. British Columbia
Tries – Katie Svoboda (2), Sarah Guttin, Misha Maric, Gillian Pegg

Conversions – Sara Svoboda

Ontario Storm Lineup vs. British Columbia – Name (Club)
1. Ashley Snider (Waterloo County)

2. Gillian Pegg (Aurora Barbarians)
3. Briana Cunningham (Waterloo County)
4. Morganne Linthwaite (Fergus Highland)
5. Erinne Vargas (Waterloo County)
6. Alex Grant (Markham Irish)
7. Jordyn Rowntree (Aurora Barbarians), Captain
8. MacKenzie Fane (Aurora Barbarians)
9. Britt Douglas (Peterborough Pagans)
10. Mackenzie Higgs (Aurora Barbarians)
11. Louise Chen (Toronto Scottish)
12. Sarah Guttin (Waterloo County)
13. Sara Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs)
14. Katie Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs)
15. Stephanie Black (Oakville Crusaders)
16. Misha Maric (Markham Irish)
17. Emily Barber (Lindsay RFC)
18. Fedelia Omoghan (Toronto Saracens)
19. Loren Baldwin (Kingston Panthers)
20. Rebecca Gannon (Peterborough Pagans)
21. Rebecca Matheson (Fergus Highland)
22. Nastasha Vrablic (Waterloo County)
23. Sydney Mann (Aurora Barbarians)

Ontario Storm Team Staff
Kevin Jones – Head Coach

Paul Loader – Assistant Coach
Kurt Magney – Assistant Coach
Gareth Williams – Assistant Coach
John Pryce – Manager

2014 National Women’s League Championship Standings:
1. Ontario Blues – 4-0-0, 20 points (4 BPs)

2. Équipe Québec – 3-1-0, 14 points (2 BPs)
3. British Columbia – 2-2-0, 10 points (2 BPs)
4. Prairies – 1-3-0, 6 points (2 BPs)
5. Atlantic Selects – 0-4-0, 1 point (1 BP)
*One bonus point is awarded to a team that loses a match by seven points or fewer, and one additional bonus point is awarded to a team scoring four tries or more in a match

Ontario Storm 2014 Match Schedule:
Friday, July 18, 2014
Kick off: 6:00 p.m.
University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, Ont.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Kick off: 2:00 p.m.
Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa, Ont.

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Kick off: 2:00 p.m.
Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa, Ont.

Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014
Kick off: 4:00 p.m.
Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa, Ont.

Sunday, Aug. 3, 2014
Kick off: 11:30 a.m.
Twin Elm Rugby Park, Ottawa, Ont.

* denotes preseason match