The UPEI Panthers women’s rugby team is young, but skilled.
About 80 per cent of the roster is first- or second-year players, including 14 seeing their first Atlantic University Sport (AUS) rugby action this season.
“We have a lot of talent, speed and power,” said coach Shannon Atkins.
“We will be great. We just need to get some experience. We will rely heavily on those few girls who are in second and third year.”
Those players include co-captains Marley McInnis and Kayla Weatherbie, as well as stand off Danielle Lacey.
The team lost its opening game of the season a week ago 48-15 to Saint Mary’s in Halifax.
Today they host the Saint Thomas Tommies in their home opener beginning at 2 p.m. Atkins said the home opener is always a highlight for the squad.
“UPEI women’s rugby has, by far, the greatest fans in the AUS,” she said. “We relish the support of the community and it always makes the girls work harder to please them.”
STU lost its opening game 88-0 to powerhouse St. F.X., a day after the X-Women lost 44-13 to Acadia.
The Panthers were fortunate to have Rugby Canada high performance coach Les Gilson work with them this week. The women are looking forward to using the knowledge they learned in today’s contest.
Before the game the team will honour former Panther Jaclyn (Coady) Carr.
She was a team captain and MVP, three-time AUS All-Star and All-Canadian.
It is a big season for the Panthers as they will host the conference championship on Oct. 26 and 27.
“We are excited to host the AUS championship,” Atkins said.
“It is a great time to showcase the immense talent that the Maritimes has in women’s rugby.”