Ladysmith’s McKenzie Saysell made a brief but explosive appearance at Rugby Canada’s National Championship Festival (NCF) in Vancouver Aug. 7-11
Saysell helped steer BC1 to a 60-0 victory over BC2 as U16 Women’s play got underway at UBC Wednesday, Aug. 7, only to have her field time cut short by injury the following day.
The young flanker’s tournament play came to an end during BC1’s 23-15 victory over Ontario Thursday, Aug. 8.
Saysell scored her first try of the tournament during the opening half of Thursday’s game to put BC1 ahead of Ontario 10-0.
Less than 20 minutes later, when Saysell “went head on” with an Ontario rival, she suffered whiplash and a concussion when the two women collided while rucking over a ball.
Saysell’s performance earned her the nod for MVP of the game, but she was forced to watch her team play from the sidelines for the remainder of the tournament.
BC1 went on to defeat Alberta 29-5 on Friday during the final round of preliminary play, setting themselves up for a semi-finals rematch with BC2 on Saturday, a game they won handily by a score of 31-0.
As BC1 squared off against Ontario in Sunday’s gold-medal game, Saysell played the part of “water girl,” she said.
Her well-hydrated teammates defeated Ontario 19-0 to win gold during the NCF’s first year featuring an U16 Women’s division.
BC1’s top three players led their division for scoring, Saysell added. BC1 teammate Caroline Crossley ranked first overall with 30 points, Chantal MacLean was second overall with 29 points, and Taiid Hanes-Young ranked third with 25 points.
Aside from her high-scoring colleagues, Saysell credited their NCF victory to her team playing well together.
“There was no fighting,” she added. “We picked each other up when we fell down, and we bonded really well.”
Saysell said she plans to play with either the Cowichan Rugby Club or Nanaimo come the fall rugby season if her doctor gives her the all-clear.
In the interim, Saysell said she’ll spend the next “three to six weeks” focusing on her recovery.
In other NCF news, Ontario rallied for a come-from-behind win over BC to clinch gold in U18 Men’s play. The U18 Women’s gold-medal game saw Ontario crush BC 25-5. And in U16 Men’s play, BC1 earned gold, while Alberta walked away with silver.