Campus Life

Rugby Horns announce recruits

They've won consecutive national championships and yet the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women's rugby team is anything but complacent.

On the heels of back-to-back Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national titles, the Horns announced their 2009 recruiting class and it features an exceptional lineup of talent. Leading the way is local product and 2009 Southern Alberta High School Rugby League (SAHSRL) most valuable player, Kelsey Willoughby.

"Kelsey is a phenomenal force in rugby. We know that she will be able to make the jump from high school to CIS play," says Pronghorns head coach Neil Langevin. "She is renowned as a physically dominating player. On defence and attack she is a player who makes opposing players and fans take notice."

Soon to be a Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (LCI) graduate, Willoughby has also been a member of U19 Team Alberta. The back row player is expected to have an immediate impact during her freshman season and for years to come.

"She is one of the most exciting players to come out of the south and is a sure bet to be featured on future national teams," continues Langevin.

Stacey Hake, Kevenza Murphy and Jenn Wickwire round out the recruiting class.

Hake is a player who already has national team experience and she joins the Horns via North Vancouver, B.C. and Carson Graham High School. A lock or #8, Hake captained the under 17 national team and is a two-time medalist at Nationals with the BC U17 team, winning gold and silver.

"Stacey will grow into a leader on this team; she has a very good background in high school and on the B.C. provincial team," says Langevin. "She is a very smart player who combines physical play with exceptional skills."

Murphy, also a member of the U17 B.C. team that won silver at the 2008 nationals, comes to the Horns after an exceptional high school career with Moscrop Secondary in Burnaby, B.C.

"Kevenza is an intelligent rugby player who seems to know where the ball will be and has the skills to make use of the ball," says Langevin. "She is surprisingly strong and also comes from the strong B.C. provincial program."

Wickwire, a central Alberta all-star, completes the class. A prop, Wickwire adds to the Horns' front row and joins a large contingent of Alberta team members already on the Horns. She has suited up with the U17 provincial team and just completed a strong high school career with Olds High School.

"Jenn is a powerhouse we have been following since grade 10 and will be a welcome addition to the pack. Alumnus Courtney Armstrong has coached her and she will be very familiar with the skill set we will be looking for," says Langevin.

The Horns will begin defence of their Canada West and CIS titles Sept, 26, hosting the newest member of the Canada West women's rugby scene, the University of Calgary Dinos. With the addition of the Dinos, Canada West has changed the composition of conference play. The Horns will also host the Alberta Pandas and travel to both Victoria and UBC, with the top four teams from the regular season qualifying for the conference championships. The University of Alberta will host the conference championship tournament, Oct. 23 to 25.