Women In Rugby: Wanda Malone
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7th, 2020
(WHITBY, ON) - In the lead up to International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8th, Rugby Ontario is profiling three different women in the rugby community. Today’s profile is on Wanda Malone. Wanda has served in many roles in the rugby community. She has been a player, coach, executive club member, trainer and match official. Read more about Wanda’s story and stay tuned to Rugby Ontario’s social channels as we celebrate amazing women within our community!
How did you first get involved with rugby?
I first became involved in rugby while attending Memorial University of Newfoundland. Walking home from class one day I saw a sign and decided to give it a try. (See what I did there!). Since then I have been involved in many areas. I have been a player, coach, executive club member, trainer, and best of all a match official! I am currently a Rugby Ontario Official and am part of the Eastern Ontario Rugby Referee’ Society. I am also involved in referring at the high school level, serving as referee-in-chief for the NCSSAA school board in Ottawa.
What is your favourite rugby memory?
This is so hard to choose. My favorite memory was being asked to officiate a match between the Ottawa Wolves and Muddy York which was played at Molson Stadium in Montreal. Both teams are part of the IGR association, and at that time were introducing inclusive rugby to Montreal (who were hoping to form a team).
What do you love most about the sport?
I love the feeling of family and community that rugby gives people. Rugby has a place for everyone and does not discriminate based on age, size, gender, sexual preference or ability. Rugby is inclusive. I have been fortunate to have been involved in rugby at many different levels; University, club, rep, high school, flag, sevens, fifteens, and Rugby Canada.
What makes you feel the most optimistic and excited about the growth of women’s rugby?
As a mother of two young girls I am most excited that they are able to see that they can achieve great things. There are great rugby role models out there for young girls. Look at Rose Labreche with her success as a referee. It was surreal to watch a friend referee 7s in its Olympic debut. LeeAnn Napiorkowski is a phenomenal example of a coach. She gives her all and shows dedication and love of our sport. (Her mixed abilities rugby program is something amazing).
What are some of the challenges women’s rugby continues to face?
Unfortunately, Women’s rugby is, at times, not taken as seriously as it should be. There is also a definite discrepancy in the funding model for elite players.
Do you have a female athlete/coach/match official who inspired you to get involved in sport?
Watching Joyce Henry and Francis Kremarik referee gave me the little nudge I needed to try officiating.
What challenges have you faced as a female in sport?
I am involved in not only rugby, but hockey and wrestling as well. At times I have not been taken seriously due to my short stature. I have also had to overcome the “she’s just a girl” mentality from other players, participants, coaches and parents.
What would you say to a young female who is thinking of getting involved in rugby?
DO IT!!!! Rugby is a broad community with something for everyone. You can be who you truly are in rugby.
What personal goals do you have for your rugby career?
I am now focusing more on the officiating side of the game. I am working towards becoming a CMO (Coach of Match Officials). In the coming years, as my girls get older, I am hoping to re-introduce rugby to the Madawaska Valley.
In an ideal world, what would the sport of rugby look like in 5 to 10 years?
As we speak, rugby is becoming more and more inclusive, with programs such as Rugby Canada and Mixed Ability rugby. I hope to see this continue and become more widespread. I also hope to see Women’s rugby be given the same recognition as Men’s.
ABOUT THE ONTARIO BLUES
The Ontario Blues program is the high performance representative program for male and female rugby players in Ontario. Rugby Ontario is represented at the provincial level by the Ontario Blues. The program includes representative teams from Under-15 to Senior in both Women’s and Men’s Fifteens and Under-18 Men's and Women's Sevens. Specifically, the program is designed to develop and showcase rugby players for Canadian representative national teams.
ABOUT RUGBY ONTARIO
Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to establish a stronger identity for rugby in Ontario by promoting the sport’s core values and by fostering a culture of inclusiveness and excellence on and off the field of play.
To learn more, visit http://www.rugbyontario.com/
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