Mount Allison captures ACAA Women’s Rugby championship BY MELISSA LOMBARD There was fresh snow on the ground and sub-zero temperatures on the day of this year’s Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) Women’s Rugby Championship in mid-November. The Mount Allison Mounties were playing a championship rival from years past in St. Thomas University. The stage was set for a memorable final. “The week before the big game we had a classroom session where we spoke to the girls about mental fitness and preparedness,” says head coach Kim Sinclair. “I feel that the girls were able to overcome the conditions by focusing on each play and how they would have to adjust to be successful.” Sinclair, who was named Coach of the Year by the ACAA, has been the head coach of Mount Allison’s women’s rugby team for the past three years. The team has “It’s a little fuzzy, but there was threeon-three and the pass came to me. I ran around two of STU’s players and went into one-on-one with the full back. I did a fake pass and when she bit, I was able to run by from there,” says Mann. “It was probably the hardest run of my life after 120 minutes. I slowly made it to the try line and fell on the ball, happy it was over.” Both coaches agree that it was one of the most thrilling rugby finals they have ever seen. “It was an additional 40 minutes of game time added to an already brutally demanding sport in the most adverse of conditions,” says Massoudi. “It was an emotional roller coaster and I even caught myself once praying to the rugby gods. There were hundreds of people there, but all I could see was our team and that field that holds so many dear memories for me.” Sinclair says the end of the game was surreal. “It was almost like an out of body experience,” she says. “Sydney hadn’t even made it to the end-zone and we were all cheering and crying and running towards her.” President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Robert Campbell also witnessed the championship win. “It does not get any more intense or exciting or satisfying than to win in conditions like this,” he says. This was Mann’s final season with the Mounties club team. She was selected as Player of the Year and was an AllConference award recipient. In her first year, she was recognized as the ACAA Rookie of the Year and was named Rookie Back of the Year on her team. “I like that rugby is a thinking sport,” says Mann. “There are so many parts of the game that are unique and lots of pieces of knowledge and positioning strategy that you need to be able to play.” Sydney Mann (’15) at the 2014 ACAA rugby championship Pride Both coaches agree that it was one of the most thrilling rugby finals they have ever seen reached the finals all three years, winning the championship in 2012 against Dal/ AC. This year she was joined by former Mount Allison rugby player and coach Ali Massoudi (’99) as assistant coach. Fourth-year player Sydney Mann from Stouff ville, ON says playing in these conditions was something new for her. “Nobody complained and the girls on the sidelines would keep us warm with blankets and mitts. Having everyone involved made the victory even that much better,” she says. The game ended in a 5-5 tie and went into sudden-death double overtime, where Mann scored the game-winning try. 29