Women's Month SPOTLIGHT: Claire Gallagher

March 15, 2024


Women's Month SPOTLIGHT: Claire Gallagher

By: Nikolas Viveiros

Claire Gallagher’s young rugby career has dazzled with success. She’s represented and scored for Canada, won various USports honours such as being a 2021 RSEQ First Team All-Star and a 2018 RSEQ Rookie of the Year, and has now taken her talents abroad to play for the Leicester Tigers in Premiership Women’s Rugby. 


Gallagher grew up in Caledon, ON, and became involved in athletics at a young age. Brought up in a house with two brothers, she joked that she was sometimes a “punching bag,” attributing her early success in sports to her competition with them.  


Her introduction to athletics is similar to many. She played hockey and soccer at high levels but didnt get her first taste of rugby until high school. There was something about the sport that intrigued her. 


“It combined skill from the other sports I played, especially speed and athleticism,” said Gallagher. “I also loved the physicality of it where you can actually follow through with a big hit which is something you cannot do in women's hockey.”  


“I wouldn’t say my path was super-linear,” said Gallagher when describing her time playing for Rugby Ontario. She played Senior Women last year and attended various camps growing up but didn’t make the provincial team at U18 and U20 level. “I wasn't an early bloomer, but I always had opportunities to keep developing my skills within the province.” 


Gallagher’s skills were further developed during her time at the University of Ottawa playing for the Gee Gees. She captured two RSEQ championships, appearing and scoring in both finals.  


“I wanted to leave a legacy of my own,” Gallagher said. “The support the university gave our team is unmatched and playing with great players everyday helped me improve”  


It was a full circle moment last July when Gallagher got her first cap for Canada in Ottawa. “To do that in a city I’d been living in for five years and having plenty of family and friends able to watch was special,” Gallagher said.  


The following week she scored her first try for the red and white as Canada toppled Australia 45-7 in their final Pacific Four Series match.  


“You almost blackout in that experience,” she added.  


Gallagher joined the Leicester Tigers in January and has enjoyed the opportunity to only focus on the growth of her game. She noted the stylistic difference between the game overseas. and how her and her new teammates have benefited from learning different skills from one another.  


“Most of these players have insane rugby IQ because they’ve played for so long,” said Gallagher. “I’ve enjoyed introducing them to the Canadian style of rugby and proving how good Canadian players are getting because there's definitely a sense of doubt in our game over here.”  


To prepare for game’s, Gallagher takes a rather loose approach. She felt she was much more regimented in university, eating pasta before every game and doing visualization. “I want to enjoy it more and just have fun,” she said. “Doing things like singing and dancing helps me stay calm and play at my best.”  


Looking to the future of the female game in Ontario, Gallagher hopes to see more girls set the bar high and not shy away from any opportunities that present themselves. There was once a time where Gallagher felt she never would have the chance to represent team Canada, and now at the age of 23 she has accomplished this and so much more.  


“Always set the bar high, be ready and just go for it,” said Gallagher. “It can be scary but say yes to those rare opportunities that come your way because you may never get that chance again.”  


Rugby Ontario is the provincial sports governing body responsible for the organization of rugby in Ontario. Our mission is to lead, support and promote Rugby for All from communities to clubs to province. This mission signals a movement toward creating a more cohesive, supportive and progressive sporting environment that is responsive to the needs of all members.

To learn more, visit https://www.rugbyontario.com/




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