St. Albert rugby player Mckenzie Pusch will wear Canada’s colours with pride during the upcoming England tour by the U20 national women’s team.
“It’s very exciting,” said the first division standout for the St. Albert Rugby Football Club. “It’s a little nerve-wracking but it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long, long time and hopefully I can only go up from here.”
Pusch, 19, was among 26 players, including six Albertans, selected for the three-game series against England U20 on Aug. 18, 22 and 26 at Trent College in Nottingham.
The majority of the players competed at the Canadian Rugby Championship U20 tournament last month in Markham, Ont.
“I’m just happy that I get to work with girls that I’m familiar with and I look forward to playing good games,” said Pusch, who played for the Prairie Wolf Pack at the U20 CRC.
The high-scoring, swift-footed winger will line up in the centres.
“I would love to showcase my talent, plus make some friends, have fun and enjoy every moment of it,” said the high school rugby product of the Bellerose Bulldogs.
The SARFC junior graduate made an instant impact at the senior level two years ago after her Grade 12 high school season with tries for the division two champions in the Edmonton Rugby Union final (36-22 come-from-behind victory against the Sirens in Grande Prairie) and provincial final (29-12 over the Saints in Calgary).
Pusch’s scoring exploits continued last year for SARFC in division one and carried over into her freshman season with the Central Washington University Wildcats with 25 tries, including a whopping six in the 123-5 pounding of Oregon State University in the Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference.
“I was always set up by everyone else on the team so I can’t take all the credit,” said the CWU Wildcat Nation women’s athlete of the year. “I had to play 13 (outside-centre) a few times because of injury but mostly I was at wing.”
The Ellensburg (Wa.) based Wildcats reached the semifinals of the D1 Elite Championship in 15s and were the plate winners at the USA Rugby Collegiate 7s National Championship.
“We did very well,” Pusch said. “They do things a little bit differently down there but it was a lot of fun.”
The alumna of the Dog River Howlers, an international touring rugby club, has picked up the pace this summer with the first division women (6-2) and last week helped sink the Pirates with tries two minutes apart with a teammate in the sin-bin over a dirty play in the first half of the roller-coaster 46-45 thriller as SARFC handed the Pirates (5-1) their first loss.
The next match for the first-place ERU team kicks-off at 2 p.m. today against the Sirens (0-7) at SARFC.