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Senior Women Barbarians prepare for 2020 season

March 19, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Robert Belardi

The Aurora Barbarians’ Senior Women’s rugby team is gearing up for the summer of 2020 after a third-place finish last season in the Ontario Women’s League (OWL).

The team is prepared to welcome more players to the roster for this year and the availability is open to anyone interested in playing.

It is anticipated that 24 will return and 15 more are expected to join, according to head coach, Khalil Ajram.

Five players on the roster went on to play with Team Ontario and one with the national team.

Come this season, the expectations are high.

“This year coming up, we’re just working on getting the numbers up, and, obviously improve on our third-place finish last year,” explained Ajram.

He has been coaching with the Aurora Barbarians since 2010 with the Junior and Senior Men’s teams. He has now been with the women’s team for the past two seasons and works outside of the club as the Program Lead with Rugby Ontario 7’s and Rugby Canada U18 boys 7’s program.

“Every team you coach and you work with is a different experience. [That’s] the beauty of rugby. You’ll never get the exact same results two times in a row.”

That might be encouraging to hear for a team looking for a different result. They can’t possibly finish third this year, can they?

It’s optimistic surely, but the proposition is the motivating factor.

This year, the senior women’s team will welcome back the captain of the Canada Rugby League team Mackenzie Fane, former Canada 7’s player Arielle Dubissette-Borrice, current Canada 15’s player McKinley Hunt and former Canada Aged-Grade player Dani Grant.

Another player returning this year is 28-year-old Colleen Barbalindaro. The 11-year veteran with the Barbarians was sidelined for most of last season with a leg injury and is excited to get back out there.

Barbalindaro says the program has been spectacular.

“It’s a great program. Our coaches are pretty high-level coaches, so they’ve both coached at an Ontario level.”

“A lot of girls join the Barbs when they’re in high school. They have the opportunity to play U18 and U16 Ontario tournaments and can build their skills,” Barbalindaro said.

She joined the Barbarians right after playing Rugby in high school and has never looked back.

There are a few women who have played for Canada and British Columbia on the roster. But, when these women are not playing for Canada, they still need to play for a home team and that’s what the Barbarians are for.

Amidst this great opportunity is a challenge the club continuously faces.

Head Coach Ajram says the Barbarians face an off-field challenge in the League that separates the Town of Aurora from the rest.

“Most of the towns are university towns. So, they benefit from players who play for the university and stay in those towns,” Ajram elaborated.  “[We] don’t benefit from that. The issue we run into is retention of our players.”

The U18 Barbarians is one of the best teams in the province. Once they head off to school, the roster can change and some of the players may or may not return.

The hope is those players do return and remain a part of the rugby culture.

It’s a culture Ajram says is unique, with players buying each other drinks after the game and teams being open to players of all ages. The Men’s Team, for instance, has a 55-year-old player on the roster, while the local club has helped found the Guardian Angels, a team solely dedicated to women over the age of 30.

In this program, the women who enter it enter a sisterhood; a place where their legacy is cemented within the team’s history.

The girls are expected to begin practicing on April 28. No announcement has been made regarding any changes to that schedule.

For more information, head to the Aurora Barbarians website to learn how to register.



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