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P.E.I. native prepping for international rugby pitch

Acadia fullback Alysha Corrigan outruns an attempted tackle by UPEI’s Maddy Shea (#15) in Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby action earlier this season in Wolfville, N.S. Corrigan, a former Panthers standout, and the Axewomen land Saturday at UPEI for a matchup against the Panthers.
Acadia fullback Alysha Corrigan outruns an attempted tackle by UPEI’s Maddy Shea (#15) in Atlantic University Sport women’s rugby action earlier this season in Wolfville, N.S. Corrigan, a Charlottetown native, plays her first international match with Canada’s senior women’s Sunday versus England.

Charlottetown’s Alysha Corrigan plays first international women’s rugby match Sunday versus England

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It’s almost go time for Alysha Corrigan.

The Charlottetown rugger touched down in the United Kingdom last Sunday and in three days plays her first international match as a member of Canada’s senior women’s rugby touring team.

That comes versus England on Sunday, at 10 a.m. Atlantic, and the former UPEI Panthers standout still wasn’t sure it was true.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. It’s pretty incredible,” Corrigan said in an interview before she flew off to the U.K. “I don’t think my mom (Sonya Hooper) knew what to say. Crazy I had so many messages from so many people across the Maritimes… I’m really feeling the love.”

Corrigan, 21, got here after a solid showing at a national invitational camp in May in Ontario (she went out with ex-Panther Holly Jones). 

Her inclusion on the 31-player national roster came as she played for the host Acadia Axewomen in the U Sports women’s rugby championship. It was a nice bonus to also being named a second team all-Canadian for the third time in her career.

But nothing came easy. At the national tryout, Corrigan edged out top players from across the country and from much larger programs. And now she gets to wear the maple leaf with several of the best senior female rugby players in the nation.

“For camp I really focused on my fitness before I left. I knew what the fitness test was so I focused on that,” she said. “I’m just excited. So many experienced players. It will be cool to see how they take the leadership (role). I’m just going to take it in as best as I can and try to keep up with everybody.”

Corrigan spent the summer honing her rugby skills with the Charlottetown Rugby Football Club (helping it to a second straight Rugby Nova Scotia women’s title) and playing in the nationals with the Nova Scotia Keltics.

She then joined Atlantic women’s rugby powerhouse Acadia for her fifth and final year of eligibility, finishing second in Atlantic University Sport scoring with 53 points, one point behind teammate and Tignish native Tori Hogan.

The tour includes whistle stops in Wales on Saturday, Nov. 24, then in Scotland Tuesday, Nov. 27. It’s a litmus test gauging where Canada’s senior women’s program stands as the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand looms. Corrigan isn’t guaranteed to make that team, but playing well in the test matches, starting with England, only helps her cause.

“Growing up I watched this tour. England will be a hard, physical match. They’re big, physical, strong. I’m excited for the challenge.”

Challenging, too, will be finding downtime. Corrigan doesn’t see much of it while the squad jets from location to location. Nor does she expect much time for sightseeing in one of the world’s oldest countries, but she knows that’s part of representing Canada on the pitch.

“The schedule looks pretty busy. I don’t know if we’ll be allowed much (downtime). It would be kind of nice if we can debrief a day or two, but there’s not much time I don’t think for anything else.”

Corrigan’s former Panthers teammate Ellen Murphy of Augustine Cove played on the Ottawa Gee Gees squad which beat Acadia in the opening match of the recent women’s university championship in Wolfville, N.S.

Corrigan tallied a try and kicked two conversions in that game.

Acadia lost its second match 10-7 to the Victoria Vikes. Corrigan scored Acadia’s only try and botted the conversion in her final university game.

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