Campus Life

Horns benefit from Langevin's stature

The University of Lethbridge boasts some of the country's most distinguished researchers, professors who bring worldly knowledge to their classrooms on a daily basis.

The quality of the U of L experience doesn't end in the classroom however, as the campus is also home to one of the most accomplished coaches the country has to offer in women's rugby boss Neil Langevin (BA/BEd '91, MEd '10). The former head coach of Canada's National Senior Women's Rugby Team has been away from the national program for five years but Rugby Canada saw fit to make him an offer he couldn't refuse recently, and Langevin is once again back in the fold.

Boulet and Langevin
Toby Boulet (left), team manager, and Neil Langevin, head coach, have made the Horns women's rugby program a national power.

"I thought it was a great opportunity to get back involved at the national level but not at the commitment level that I had been involved with the senior team," says Langevin, who will take over the women's U20 program for what he describes as an open-ended tenure. At the very least, he is committed to working with the program through five regional evaluation camps this spring and summer and leading the squad when it participates in a summer international tournament in California.

"Helping identify and develop potential national senior players and potential Olympians is exciting," says Langevin. "The prospect of an international tournament this summer and the opportunity to work with potential Olympic sevens athletes was too much to turn down."

Sevens rugby is being added to the 2016 Olympic schedule and Rugby Canada wanted experienced coaches working with its junior players in preparation for their graduation to the senior level.

Langevin's credentials are unparalleled. The only head coach in Pronghorns women's rugby history, he has led the Horns to five consecutive Canada West titles and won three consecutive CIS championships from 2007 to 2009. It's no accident that elite players seek out the University of Lethbridge and the opportunity to play for Langevin. To that end, he says the Horns are restocked and ready to take another run at a national title in the fall, after failing to medal at last year's CIS championship tournament.

"We've been really active in terms of recruiting," says Langevin. "I think we've got about 10 players confirmed for next year already, including some pretty high profile locals who are with the junior national program."

And while last year's squad fell short of extending the program's national title run, he was quick to point to how close his injury-depleted squad came to defending its three straight crowns.

"To be really honest, we were only seven points and two minutes away from going to the final with a very beat up team," he says, referring to a tight semifinal loss to Concordia Stingers. "Knowing that and the incoming recruiting class, I'm pretty confident in saying this team will be competitive for the next five years."

It has been a good offseason for Horns rugby on the whole. In addition to Langevin's appointment and a strong recruiting class, two more Horns were named to senior national teams. Both Kelsey Willoughby and Brittany Orr earned senior national team appointments with the Canadian Sevens squad, joining erstwhile national team member and former Pronghorn Ashley Patzer.

"We're really proud of those athletes," says Langevin. "The number is six now that have gone on to the senior national program over the years, either in the sevens or the 15s, and I think it's a testament to the girls who come into our program and take to the environment we have in training."