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Three Gaels to play for Canada at women’s under-20 Nations Cup rugby tournament

July 4, 2013

Three members of the Queen’s Golden Gaels will be part of the Canadian team at the women’s under-20 Nations Cup rugby tournament, an 11-day event that begins July 11 in London, England.

Jordyn Rowntree, Lauren McEwen and Nadia Popov were selected from a tryout camp in Toronto last month after a series of identification camps that began in October.

The tournament is a four-team affair, also involving teams from England, the U.S. and South Africa. Canada will play its first game against the U.S.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for challenge and growth,” Gaels coach Beth Barz, an assistant with the 2011 Canadian team at this event, said in a release. “Competing internationally allows growth of confidence and skills through playing at a faster pace and against very well drilled sides like England and the USA.”

Popov, from Stouffville, Ont., was rookie of the year and an Ontario University Athletics all-star last fall, helping Queen’s to a provincial silver medal and a fifth-place finish at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.

For McEwen, from Wasaga Beach, Ont., the ascent to the team is particularly remarkable since she is just seven months removed from her second shoulder operation in two years.

Rowntree, a film studies student from Newmarket who is a club teammate of Popov with the Aurora Barbarians, says the success of the Queen’s team last fall was “definitely a confidence booster” in her bid to make the national team.

“It was a lot of work, mentally and physically,” she said, in a release.

The first women’s under-20 Nations Cup was played in 2008 in Oakville. The tournament has been held twice since, with England winning all three times. Canada finished third in 2011, with a 1-2 record. Two current members of the varsity women’s team at Queen’s, sisters Claragh and Gillian Pegg, were on that team.

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