After cracking the national women’s 15s rugby team last summer, Brandon’s Amanda Thornborough has her eyes set on a bigger goal of donning the Maple Leaf at the IRB Women’s World Cup in August.
While the event seems so far away, the selection process for Canada’s team starts next month with a two-week selection camp in Shawnigan, B.C. Since returning from a European tour with the national team in November, the 23-year-old Thornborough has been focused on making sure she can impress at the camp and get the opportunity to play in test matches against the United States on April 7 and 9, which is the next step in the selection process.
Thornborough has been living in Victoria and training with members of the national 7s team as well as finishing her political science degree, but she’s focused on getting to the World Cup.
"Having my first cap last summer was huge at 23 and it was a great experience," she said. "Now I can put the nerves on the back burner and just kind of do my job and retain my position."
Pursuing her goal to play in the World Cup has proven to be a little more costly for the graduate of the Vincent Massey Vikings high school team and Brandon Barbarians club team.
The 5-foot-5 centre moved to B.C. to be part of Canada’s 7s rugby team shortly after she won her second Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women in 2012. Since 7s rugby is becoming an Olympic sport in 2016, Thornborough and the other members of that national team are carded athletes and receive funding to train and go to their tournaments.
However, 15s rugby athletes aren’t carded and the sport is not funded, which means Thornborough has to pay to play with the national team. She has a website — donate.rugbycanada.ca/e/athorn — where people can support her financially, and admits it’s a little more stressful having to worry about financing trips and transportation to play with the national team.
"Worrying about your rugby skills and finances puts some extra burden on you, but I try not to think about it," said Thornborough, who is grateful for any donation that comes her way. "I’ve had huge success with friends and family. They’ve supported me along the way and ultimately it gets paid for."
Thornborough had to tone down her training a little bit after injuring a shoulder while playing with the Velox Valkyries in a recent club game. However, she’s not letting that deter her and is looking forward to the upcoming tryout camp and a chance to represent Canada at the World Cup.
"I’ve been modified (training) to get better with that, but I’m still excited. I think my scores will be good and I’m excited to play some games," she said. "Every time (representing Canada) is a great experience and an honour. I just hope I can continue to wear the jersey and wear it well and I’ve earned it. I’m very excited."
Canada will play Australia and New Zealand in June in New Zealand to prepare for the World Cup, which starts in France on Aug. 1. Canada has been placed in a preliminary pool at the World Cup with England, Samoa and Spain.