Playing for the national team was not something Madison MacInnis thought about when she started playing rugby.
In fact, the Sydney native wasn’t even considering trying out for the provincial team, but rather playing sport for fun at the high school level.
But, after playing with Riverview High School’s girls’ program, MacInnis quickly realized her talent and would later tryout for various teams, including provincial clubs.
The 17-year-old eventually made the provincial team, which is where her career took off, featuring various invitations to provincial and national team identification camps.
Today, MacInnis is a member of Canada’s national under-18 women’s rugby team and will participate in the Can-Am tour with the club at the end of the month.
“Cape Breton is a small place, so to be able to represent the island on such a big stage, it makes me proud and honoured,” said MacInnis.
As part of the Can-Am tour, the Canadian team will travel to Chula Vista, Calif, to play a pair of games against the United States on Dec. 28 and Dec. 30. Both games begin at 7 p.m. Atlantic Time.
MacInnis will be one of two Nova Scotians on the national team including Emma MacDougall of Halifax, who currently plays with St. Francis University in the Atlantic University Sport.
MacInnis’ journey to the national team began in January when she was invited to attend an identification camp in Bridgewater, after spending the summer playing with the Nova Scotia Keltics.
“Each provincial coach from the Atlantic provinces picked a few of their athletes to attend the camp and I was one of them,” said MacInnis.
Following the high school rugby season, MacInnis turned her attention to the provincial summer league, but what she learned prior to the season changed her thought process.
“My provincial coach called me at the start of summer and told me that I was invited to attend the Canada East camp in Ontario,” said MacInnis, an inside centre.
During the summer, MacInnis travelled to St. Catharines, Ont., to attend the Canada East camp, which featured training, practice and an exhibition game against United States East.
With the new school year beginning, MacInnis moved to Halifax to be closer to the provincial team for training reasons and began attending Halifax West High School.
In October, MacInnis received an email from the national program letting her know she was one of 24 players to make the under-18 team for this year’s edition of the Can-Am tour.
“I couldn’t have been happier to get the news,” said MacInnis, a Grade 12 student. “I knew I had a good camp, so I was hoping to make the team and I did.”
The national under-18 program works in line with the under-20 program, U Sports and senior women’s programs as part of an athlete pathway into various senior teams.
MacInnis and the team will arrive in California on Dec. 26 and will take part in daily training sessions until their two matches against the United States.
According to Rugby Canada, the games will not be live streamed, however, half-time and full-time scores will be updated on the organization’s social media pages.
MacInnis will return to Halifax for the month of January to finish her high school semester.
She will return to Cape Breton in early February and attend Riverview High School for her final semester, while playing for the Coxheath school’s rugby team in April.
- Hometown: Sydney, N.S.
- Age: 17
- Position: Inside Centre
- Team: National under-18 women’s rugby team