WOLFVILLE, N.S. – Acadia University's Department of Athletics and Axewomen Rugby coach Matthew Durant are pleased to announce the commitment of seven students to the Acadia rugby roster this coming fall.
Moncton, N.B. native Allie Jones, a powerful front-row player who has represented NB several times in the past, was recently invited to the regional Rugby Canada identification camp in February. Jones shows great promise to be a dominant player at the CIS level. Jones is explosive offensively and her strength in the pack will certainly serve her well in her future with the AUS Champion Axewomen.
"Allie is a powerful athlete and the ceiling for her development is very, very high. Allie has the potential to be the next big force in the front row in AUS rugby", noted Durant.
Coline Ramade, another recruit from Moncton, N.B., is another emerging talent from New Brunswick. Ramade has being playing Senor Women's rugby with the Moncton Black Tide and represented NB on numerous occasions at different age levels. An extremely hard working player and committed to her career in rugby, Ramade is a very talented flanker who has been long-listed for the Under 20 Canadian Women's team and her high rugby IQ will bode her well at Acadia this fall.
"Coline is an incredibly tenacious and hard-working player", commented Durant. "We are really looking forward to her drive and desire helping boost the energy level of our team on the field this season."
Albertan Harley Tucker is perhaps the most talented player emerging from a very strong Alberta program this year, and is surely one of the top recruits in the country this off-season. From Calgary, Alta., Harley is traveling with the Under 18 Canadian team to the United Kingdom in April and will be one of Canada's strongest forwards in the tournament. At 6 feet tall, Harley is a strong presence in the scrum, and is extremely effective in the loose.
Durant praised Tucker for her abilities. "We are looking forward to the size and physicality that Harley will bring to our team. Harley is set to have an incredible CIS and international rugby career, and we are excited that Harley has decided to join our strong program."
Durant was able to attract the attention of Williams Lake, B.C. native Natasha Johnson. A great talent emerging from the strong B.C. Under 18 and Under 20 programs, Johnson is a powerful and elusive runner in the centres.
"Natasha has come from a rather remote region in British Columbia and we were lucky to have identified her as I am sure she flew under the radar of many CIS programs.", explained Durant. "I think she has an enormous upside and potential and we are excited she is joining our strong back-line."
Markham, Ontario's Nicole Pahl is an extremely athletic player who excels at the scrum-half position. While narrowly missing out on the U18 Canada tour to the UK in April, Nicole was listed as one of only 5 alternates for the team. Having represented a strong Ontario provincial program on several occasions, Nicole's high rugby IQ and high level of athleticism have her game-ready for the CIS level.
"Nikki is a very mature player who already has plenty of experience at the provincial level and she was one of the alternates for the recent Under 18 Team Canada", explained Durant. "We think Nikki is ready for the CIS now and could lead our backs in her first season, and this is rare for a scrum-half moving into the CIS."
Locally, Durant was able to secure the top talent in Nova Scotia Rugby. Sydney Smith, emerging from Middleton, N.S., is one of the most coveted recruits in Canada this off-season. At 6 feet tall, and incredibly athletic, Smith is a dominant runner in the centres. She will be joining the Canadian Under 18 team to play in the United Kingdom as the sole representative from Atlantic Canada. She is sure to be one of Canada's strongest players on tour.
"We are very excited that Sydney has decided to join our team. Sydney is the next big female impact player that is climbing through the ranks of rugby in Canada and she has a great career ahead of her at an international level with Canada", explained Durant. "We expect Sydney will have an immediate impact on our team and her potential is off the charts."
The second and last of local talent is Horton High Griffin Zoe Croke from New Minas, N.S.
A member of the NS provincial program as well, Croke is a strong defensive talent who is fearless in the tackle. Croke has experience in both the forwards and the backs and this versatility will serve her very well here at Acadia.
"Zoe is a very fearless and physical player. Her immediate upside is her versatility; Zoe has the potential to play many positions on the field, and this will bode her well this season", noted Durant.
Crowned as the AUS Champions this past season, the Axewomen open up the 2016 AUS regular season on the road at UPEI on Saturday, September 10th at 2:00 p.m.