Brandonite Amanda Thornborough is excited about Canada’s upcoming three-game exhibition series versus New Zealand and Australia in preparation for August’s IRB Women’s World Cup in France. (FILE PHOTO)
Brandon’s Amanda Thornborough is getting ready to wear Canada’s colours on two different continents.
The 23-year-old graduate of the Vincent Massey Vikings and Brandon Barbarians rugby programs is preparing to play for Canada’s national women’s 15s rugby team overseas in New Zealand next month during a three-game exhibition series versus the New Zealand and Australian national teams.
Those test matches will help prepare the Canadian squad for this summer’s prestigious IRB Women’s World Cup in France, the highlight of this season for Thornborough and the national team.
"I’m extremely excited and I’m really happy we get the chance to come together as a team for one time before the World Cup," Thornborough said via telephone this week from Victoria, where she lives and trains full time.
"I just want to do the jersey proud. Every time I put it on, it feels like the first time and I just try to do it justice and play as well as I can."
The young rising rugby star has earned caps playing for both Canada’s sevens and 15s women’s squads, most recently representing the country in a pair of 15s test matches versus the United States last month in Langford, B.C.
"I am focusing on fifteens mostly because of the World Cup coming up this summer in Paris," said Thornborough, who trained with her former Barbarians teammates a week ago at John Reilly Field during a week-long visit with family and friends back in Brandon.
"Making this (New Zealand) tour kind of confirms that I will be on the World Cup team ... but anything can happen, injuries can happen and people can be called up. So I am just keeping my fingers crossed that I will stay healthy and play well."
Facing traditional rugby powerhouses like New Zealand and Australia will provide a stiff test for Canada, and Thornborough is looking forward to the competition as they prepare for the World Cup that begins Aug. 1 in Paris.
"I’ve never gone up against them, so it will be highly competitive," the 5-foot-5 outside centre said.
"I have played against the U.S. last summer at Nations Cup and again at the Can-Am (last month) and we’ve played England and they are always very competitive as well, but nothing compared to New Zealand and Australia. (Rugby is) their national sports ... so it should be interesting."
Thornborough moved to Victoria in December, shortly after winning a second CIS national title with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women last fall. She recently finished up her political science degree by completing a couple of winter classes at the University of Victoria and is now focused on training full time for a busy summer of rugby.
"I have put in the hours of training and the weather here in Victoria just got a lot nicer, so I’ve been doing a lot of training outside," Thornborough said. "So I think I’m ready and I am just trying to keep a level head about it ... It’s going to be a great experience."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 14, 2014