While the Ottawa Wolves have come to be associated with burly rugby men who play hard on and off the field, in the upcoming 2014 season, it’s the women who may steal the spotlight.
Not only are the Wolves the only club to represent Canada at the gay rugby world cup this year in Sydney, Australia, it is also the only gay club to have a women’s team, according to Mary Jeffries, the Wolves’ vice-president and head coach.
“It’s extra exciting to have the women there show the other IGRAB clubs that they can have a women’s side, too,” Jeffries says, referring to the International Gay Rugby Association and Board, which founded the Bingham Cup in 2001. Both the men’s and women’s teams will be competing for the first time in this biannual tournament, which has been hosted previously by such cities as Manchester, Minneapolis and Dublin.
While it’s a lot of pressure for both teams, it’s especially the case for the women, who finished a modest inaugural season last year. The last few weeks have seen returning team members stepping up recruitment efforts in hopes of having a full female roster to match the men’s by the time indoor training starts on March 22.
“We’re actually ahead of schedule,” says Jeffries, who was brought on in the club’s third year to coach, before there even was a women’s team. She explains that of the 20 or so new recruits already signed up for indoor training, more than half are women, and she anticipates having designated coaches for each team.
While the majority of the players are gay and lesbian, the club itself is open to anyone and all skill levels. With women playing, it has simply felt more balanced, Jeffries says. “It was just that next step to make our club complete.”