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Rugby in her DNA

By Steph Crosier

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ELLEVILLE, ON (27/06/11) Cindy Nelles, 17, will represent Belleville on the National U20 Women's Rugby team. This July she will head to British Columbia and onto Santa Barbara, California for the International Nations Cup Tournament. Frist game is against England. Photo by Steph Crosier

Rugby runs in the blood for a local teen who will represent Belleville on the national U20 women’s rugby team.

Cindy Nelles, who just finished her final high school exam at St. Theresa’s Secondary School on Friday, is extremely thrilled to be selected for the team.

“I’m really excited, I’m really looking forward to it,” said Nelles. “Looking forward to the experience that I’ll be able to gain from this opportunity, but I’m also really nervous. Just, I don’t know, it’s a really big step. I just want to be able to do well.”

Nelles has grown up with rugby all her life by starting in touch around six year of age.

“My dad has been playing rugby since high school,” said Nelles. “I’ve actually been playing touch rugby since I was five or six, so I mean I’ve been doing rugby for awhile so I really like it, really love it actually.”

Nelles said that the Belleville Bulldogs rugby club has been critical to her development and success as a player. She has played at their junior and senior levels for three years.

“They have been a huge stepping stone a huge help,” said Nelles. “They have definitely developed me as a rugby player and helped me out so much.”

To be selected Nelles, who plays mostly eight-man and flanker, was invited to go to a regional tryout at York University in Toronto on May 7. In the morning the women’s strength and speed were tested. At the tryout Nelles said the atmosphere was very competitive.

“Actually I was really nervous. For the whole tryout and the testing. In the afternoon we did some ball handling drills and some tacking drills. Then we had a little bit of scrimmage.”

According to the Rugby Canada website, the coaches assessed more than 160 athletes across the country. At Nelles’s tryout there were girls a year younger than her and girls who already had two years of university rugby under their belts.  After the tryouts, Nelles was told that they would be in contact if they were interested.  A few days later she was told that she made the team.

On July 4 Nelles takes off from Toronto for Shawnigan Lake, B.C. to take part in a seven-day training camp. There, Nelles will meet her teammates, most of them for the first time.  Nelles knows some of the team already because of past years playing for Team Ontario in 2009-10.

“I haven’t met a majority of them,” said Nelles. “Majority of them are obviously older, but also they are from other provinces, like Newfoundland, B.C. or Alberta.”

The Nations Cup is from July 11-24 and will mean more than ever this year.  Nelles said that the team is also being developed for the 2016 Olympics.

Canada’s first game of the Nations Cup tournament will take place on July 14 versus England.