Toronto, ON, Canada (4E Sports) – Magali Harvey is now emerging as the new face of women’s rugby after leading Canada to its first-ever silver medal at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Paris and winning the IRB women’s rugby player of the year.
“I knew we’d do amazing and we did,” Harvey said of Canada’s trip to the final. “I’m glad it paid off, all the hard work.”
The feat was amazing considering that Harvey first picked up a ball in high school.
“It was very scary because, at the time, there were no coaches who knew how to play rugby so they would just put you on the field and tell you to play,” Harvey said, according to the NY Times, recalling her introduction to the 15-a-side format in Quebec City.
“But, it definitely grew on me,” the 24-year-old added.
The sport of rugby is one of the fastest growing in schools across Canada, driven, in part, by the inclusion of the fast-paced rugby sevens version of the game in the 2016 Olympics.
However, funding, particularly for 15-a-side, has been a problem despite the sport’s boom in the country.
According to coach Francois Ratier, each team member had to pull $10,000 out of their pockets just to get to the World Cup.
Harvey, for her part, said she wants to finish her business degree and then make money to be able to play in the 2016 Olympics.
“The Olympic dream keeps me going,” she said. “That’s my ultimate goal and then I want to move on with my life.”
“The challenge will always be the cost. How can we maintain the quality of players that will make the same sacrifices that this generation of players has made?” Ratier said.
“I was fortunate to have 26 players who were able to make it and sacrifice their careers, their jobs, just to make that World Cup and train, but I don’t know how many times that will happen,” he added.
In his 14 months as coach, the women had to attend five international events just to get to the World Cup and each trip cost around $2,000, Ratier said.