EMCS players shine brightly in international rugby

Rori Wood and Alexis Dunning earn top marks on and off the field

Two Edward Milne Community School students are making their mark as elite rugby athletes.

Rori Wood, 16, and Alexis Dunning, 15, recently returned from an international tournament in Las Vegas where the two helped B.C. win the Under-16 Junior Varsity championship.

But the Las Vegas tournament is more of a stepping zone than a final destination.

Wood and Dunning are considered top prospects for the Canadian national team.

Last summer, Wood was invited to the U18 national team camp, and both will return this year.

It’s been a meteoric ride for Wood, who has been playing rugby for two years. Dunning is more of a veteran with four years of playing experience.

“Ever since that first practice, I have been hooked,” Dunning said.

Wood was approached by a teacher in middle school and asked if she would be interested in playing for the school team.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing,” she recalled, “but everyone kept passing me the ball.”

Wood and Dunning have been inseparable as teammates with the two on several teams together, including high school, club, provincial and national squads.

“They’re both phenomenal talents,” said Matthew Dunning, Alexis’ dad and team manager of the EMCS girls’ rugby team, which this year expects to win a provincial title.

And while there is pressure to compete on the field, both Dunning and Wood are also honour roll students with A and B averages.

It all comes part and parcel to competing at an elite level, points out Matthew Dunning. Athletes are expected to do well in school if they hope to advance.

For Dunning and Wood that means scholarships as a way to advance in their sport.

It’s not easy.

Both girls train up to 10 times a week either with different teams or on their own, and then comes the school work.

Dunning said often times she is in bed by 8 p.m.

“It’s definitely hard, but it’s worth it,” Wood said. “If you’re doing what you love, what’s not to like about it.”

Matthew Dunning said both his daughter and Wood are an example of what is happening at the provincial level where B.C. teams are winning at every level.

“I think our girls in B.C. have proven that they’re head and shoulders above the rest of the country,” he said.