Jacklyn ‘so excited’ for rugby opportunity

Brantford Collegiate Institute student Grace Jacklyn has been named to the Rugby Canada Development Academy.


Brantford’s Grace Jacklyn is keeping herself on the Rugby Canada radar.

The Grade 11 student at Brantford Collegiate Institute was recently named to participate in the Rugby Canada Development Academy.

“It’s a big deal,” said the 16-year-old daughter of Gavin and Tannis.

“It’s a really good level. There are a lot of girls that have very good skills and a lot of them have so much room to get even better.

“I’m so excited for that.”

This isn’t Jacklyn’s first foray into high-level rugby.

A year ago, she travelled to England for a tour with an under-16 Ontario Junior Blues team. She also went to New York for a 7s tournament with Upright Rogues

“It was fun,” she said of the second event.

“It was a quick little tournament over their Black Friday weekend. I was playing up a level and the competition was definitely hard.”

Jacklyn continued to compete at a high level in March by playing with an Ontario 7s team that played in B.C.

“It was incredible,” she said of the event. “It was cool to see how they train differently and the different game play from B.C. and Alberta.

“We really cleaned up in that tournament. We won all our games in the tournament and had one try scored against us in total.”

Shortly after returning from the west, things were shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was “definitely really disappointing,” said Jacklyn.

“After travelling so much, I was on a rugby high. I was playing so much and having so much fun and then all of a sudden it was gone in two days.”

That didn’t stop Jacklyn from training. Working with her dad, Jacklyn ran and worked out at home.

She was able to start up with the Harlequins in late summer, while also training with a group in Guelph. Eventually, she attended the development academy to test herself against other top players from the west region.

“Normally, my testing does not go well but I saw some big improvements after the summer, which was really surprising,” she said of her performance at the October camp.

With 40 girls vying for 14 spots, Jacklyn seized the opportunity. She now travels to Guelph twice a week.

“It’s nice to have things so organized and to be able to have set gym space and lift times,” she said.

There is no clear-cut team that participants at the development academy make but that doesn’t matter to Jacklyn. She’s using the training to remain where she is and, down the road, soar even higher.

“I’m definitely looking to continue on with Ontario teams,” she said of her future plans. “Hopefully, their 7s and 15s programs will be running next year so we can go to eastern nationals.

“I really enjoy 7s so I’m hoping to go somewhere there. My goal right now is to, hopefully, play for whatever university I go to.”

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