By: Talor Mykle-Winkler, SFU Rugby University Liaison
Editor’s note: Talor Mykle-Winkler is the SFU Rugby University Liaison, a new position created to help keep SFU students connected to SFU Rugby.
During university, there are several choices a student makes. Which courses to take, what major to pursue, whether or not to apply for co-op, and so many more that can affect a university experience. One decision that students have been making for over 50 years has been to join the SFU Rugby Club.
Established in 1965, the SFU Rugby Club is the university’s longest running sports club. It has evolved into a club with a strong foundation of players and alumni that continue to support it. The club is home to a first division women’s team and a second division men’s team, playing in the BC Rugby Union against teams from all over the Greater Vancouver Area, Seattle, Kelowna, and Vancouver Island. Many members have come to SFU Rugby with little to no experience, and, over time, have developed into players with a competitive edge and a love for the game. SFU Rugby players have gone on to compete at both the provincial and national levels.
December Woodward, a member of the women’s team, first joined in 2011 when she moved from Calgary to attend SFU. Having already played rugby in Calgary, she signed up during Clubs Days and hasn’t looked back since. “As someone brand new to the city, being able to join this team was so incredibly helpful. It gave me a whole group of friends that I didn’t have before,” she said. Woodward continues to play with the team, even after graduation, and credits the club culture as a major factor in her continued commitment to playing rugby. She has also represented the Fraser Valley team and has played for BC on the senior women’s team at national competitions.
When asked why he chose to come play for the SFU Rugby Club when he moved to Canada from Australia back in 2017, Benji Wilson noted that it was a combination of hearing about SFU Rugby on a previous trip to Canada and his sister-in-law bringing him to a practice one night.
“Straight away, I was welcomed and felt like I had been a part of the team for a long time,” Wilson said about his first practice with SFU Rugby. “It was the team and the players that made me want to stay. . . I love the family bond SFU Rugby has, because when I came to Canada I had left all my friends and family back home in Australia.”
Wilson now plays a leadership role in continuing to grow and develop the team as more new players join.
With over 50 current players between the men’s and women’s team’s, and countless dedicated alumni from throughout the years, SFU Rugby has definitely grown into a big family that cares for and supports each other. They hold many social events, such as Family Day, Halloween, and an annual Year End Banquet to welcome new players, engage alumni, support the club culture, and have a good time with the team. Having a team that feels like a family has played a major role in the club’s growing success for all these years.
“We are also a social club [who] love to do things as a team outside of the rugby environment and I love that,” remarked Wilson when asked why he, along with many other players, have stuck around. “Catching up, going out, playing in summer tournaments together, that all appeals to me and made me want to stay,” he added.
The club also supports members by offering bursaries, which are generously donated by alumni and given to student athletes so that they can continue their dedication to the sport alongside their education. The club also participates in Clubs Days each semester to let students know that there is always a place for them on the rugby team.
For those interested, the rugby season is currently underway and you can keep up to date with the team’s schedule and results by following their Instagram @sfurugby or by finding them on Facebook.
The women’s team is currently 1–1 and the men’s team stands at 1–2. Practices are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at Terry Fox Field from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you’re interested in playing rugby, bring your boots and join the family. Rugby experience is not required.