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'Surreal' moment as Canmore rugby player wears Maple Leaf for first time

"That feeling of just stepping onto the field on my very first world series is just a feeling that I can't explain, it's incredible. It was a very special feeling to play with people that have inspired me forever."

DUBAI – Canmore's Krissy Scurfield, one of Canada's fastest rising rugby prospects, has taken things to another level.

Lining up against Great Britain's women's sevens squad, the 18-year-old thought about the "surreal" moment she was mixed up in and seconds from debuting for the Maple Leaf far away from home.

"That feeling of just stepping onto the field on my very first world series is just a feeling that I can't explain, it's incredible," Scurfield said. "It was a very special feeling to play with people that have inspired me forever."

The former Banff Bears standout was selected to be a part of Canada's first travel roster for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, an annual series of an elite-level of international rugby play, which opened its season with consecutive weekend tournaments in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The second tournament starts Friday (Dec. 3) when Canada plays against Australia and Spain and Saturday (Dec. 4) against Russia and Brazil. A fifth game is scheduled later on Saturday against a team in the opposite bracket. CBC Sports is airing some games.

"It was a dream for me to be in a world series," said Scurfield. "It's a feeling that I can't really explain, but I was very nervous."

Scurfield is one of five Maple Leaf Academy (MLA) athletes, Rugby Canada's NextGen program, called up to play for the senior women's team in Dubai.

Off the pitch, the Canuck crew has been sightseeing around the cosmopolitan metropolis, sitting poolside and bonding over some pretty intense spikeball tournaments at the beach.

Although sounding like a nice vacation, the young Canadian crew knows its purpose.

"Everybody wants to be here, everybody wants to train and we all have the same goals," said Scurfield about her teammates. "Everybody is also very unique in their own way and everyone has their own special qualities that have got them where they are."

After sitting out for gameplay on Nov. 27, the teen got her on-pitch minutes against Great Britain, the U.S.A., and Russia during the second day of action.

Canada went 1-4 in the opening tournament, defeating Ireland in its lone victory.

"On the first day [of last week's tournament], not playing at all was actually a really good thing for me," Scurfield said. "I kind of got like a sense of the speed, seeing it in real life I got to really like watch the players and analyze how things go and always feeling more comfortable with the team. Our team is pretty new, especially for me coming in, I'm the newest addition of the team basically, so it was a pretty big week for me to kind of gel with the team and figure out how everybody plays."

Scurfield plays wing in sevens, which has one main requirement: being an explosive sprinter.

Scoring a lot in a short period of time is emphasized in sevens, which is a shorter, faster, and more intense version of the game with seven athletes per team playing in seven-minute halves. 

In her first love of hockey, Scurfield played a physical style on the ice and was unafraid to tattoo players to the boards given the chance.

She started playing rugby at age 15 for Banff high school, which transitioned into training at Team Alberta camps and eventually being scouted at U18 Canada camps.

Earlier this year, Scurfield was handpicked for the MLA program in Langford, B.C., near where she attends the University of Victoria. A budding star, the Vike's on-pitch skills bode well with a natural IQ for playing the game.

On the rugby pitch, the 18-year-old's evasive defence and lightning quick feet have made her stand out as one of the brightest young stars in Canada's rugby program – and a natural choice for sevens.

"We're in a big rebuild phase here right now [at Rugby Canada]," said Scurfield. "A lot of us are new players ... and we're on the come-up so I think every day we're really a fresh new team and I think honestly every practice we get better and better."

Rugby sevens is featured at the Summer Olympics, and following a bronze medal for women's sevens at the 2016 Rio Games, many believe the team underperformed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after missing the quarter-finals.

With fresh faces in the lineup in Dubai, Jack Hanratty, Canada’s senior women’s sevens interim head coach, said he's excited about the rising prospects on the first travel roster.

“Coming in, one thing the staff was really conscious about was that we had to make sure that the players selected for this international event were ready both physically and mentally," said Hanratty on Rugby Canada's social media. "We’re really excited about the young and engaging and exciting group that we have going to Dubai.”

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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