Golden moment for Delhi rugby player
Delhi's Mandy Beneff (second from left) was part of the championship winning Team Ontario U18 women's rugby team that participated in the National Women's League Championships this month in British Columbia. Pictured with Beneff are Team Ontario coaches Sean Dunleavy, Denis Blondin and Dan Valley. (Contributed Photo)
There's nothing like steam rolling through the competition.
Especially when the opponents didn't prove to be much competition.
That's what Delhi's Mandy Beneff experienced as part of the Ontario's U18 women's rugby team during the National Women's League Championships in British Columbia earlier this month. Team Ontario went undefeated in five straight games to British Columbia 20-5 to win the gold medal.
“In five games we only let them (the competition) get in one or two trys max,” joked Beneff. “We let them have a little taste of winning before we crushed them.”
All joking aside, Beneff — who represented the area as a member of the Norfolk Harvesters U18 women's team — said it was hard work on the field against some great teams from across the country. To represent the province at the national championship was an honour on its own said the 18-year-old.
Harvesters U18 coach Ian Fitzgerald was glued to his computer screen as he watched live streams of the games online. Fitzgerald cheered on Beneff when she played as well as fellow Harvesters April Wright and Ricki-Ann Hearn who won silver at the same event as part of the the province's U16 team.
“I had a chance to see it and it was a great tournament,” said Fitzgerald, who also coaches Holy Trinity's girls rugby team. “I was amazed the U18 team won all the way through. Some of the players I've followed since they played U16 and they all put in a tremendous effort. There was some good rugby played out there.”
Fitzgerald said he talked strategy with Beneff before she left for British Columbia. He said the key was to minimize the opponent's attacks.
“Mandy just went out there and laid this poor girl out. She got crushed,” Fitzgerald said. “Some of the attacks (by the opponents) were overzealous. But Mandy played well. All the girls played well. As a coach I couldn't be more proud of them.”
For Beneff, the national championships was more than just rugby. The event proved to be a good learning experience that taught her what it's like to play the sport at a higher level.
Beneff said she also met a lot of new friends while showing a few talent scouts what she's all about when it comes to post-secondary rugby.
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