By Josh Bell
Three Ottawa teenagers have come home as champions from Rugby Canada’s national rugby festival. John Shaw, Catherine Belanger and Ingrid Krausbar all won gold for their Team Ontario squads at the Aug. 7-11 championship at the University of British Columbia.
“It’s just awesome,” says Shaw, who plays for the Bytown Blues club locally. “I’ve been in the Ontario program since U15 and this is the first time we’ve won. It’s really nice to come away with the gold.”
In Ontario’s four wins, Shaw scored two tries, including one in the 29-21 championship win over British Colombia. He attributes Ontario’s success all the way back to team tryouts.
“This year, there has been more competition than ever to get a spot on the team,” he notes. “Everyone really battled for the spots and once we made it we were just ready to go.”
Shaw isn’t the first in his household to earn national rugby gold; his older brother Billy won as well. His brother is a big reason Shaw began playing, and helped in his success.
“It was always a huge goal to be able to do what he did and I did a lot of my training with him,” the St. Peter Catholic High School product signals. “It’s been a big factor looking up to him.”
Belanger and Krausbar, who both play for the Ottawa Irish, also won at the U18 level. The Ontario team dominated in their five wins en route to gold, the closest game being the final: a 25-5 victory. Both players credit their success to their coaches.
“Our training is really intense,” Krausbar highlights. “We had to perfect everything we did right down to the little details.”
“It comes down to the hard work of our coaches,” she says. “They trained us hard and made sure we knew everything we had to. They had a huge impact on how our team performed.”
Both women had the same comments about how it feels to win the gold medal, saying that it’s good to know that all their hard work can pay off.
All three gold medalists have set the same goals for themselves in their rugby careers: playing for Canada. Shaw will wear the red and white for a second time in his career for the U18 national squad as they head to Romania in November. Krausbar hopes to dress for Canada next season, while Belanger is headed to York University to play for the Lions in CIS women’s rugby, but is striving for Team Canada within the next two years.
Also competing at the national festival from Ottawa were Sarah Hiscock and Morgan Vallati, silver medalists in U16 women’s.
Mason Dingwall, playing for Ontario-3, was the leading scorer in the U18 men’s tournament, as his team won the second-tier Plate final.