Earning a spot on Team Canada’s roster for the upcoming Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland is the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Lori Josephson of Beaverton.
“I couldn’t have been happier when I saw that I was named to the World Cup squad. This has been my ultimate goal in rugby since I got involved in representative programs eight years ago. It doesn’t seem real yet,” she said.
“I can’t explain how excited I am. Being a part of a this team is such an honour. I can’t wait to pull on the jersey and represent Canada at a World Cup alongside these incredible people.”
A graduate of Brock High School, Josephson was a standout performer at the University of Western Ontario, where she was named to the Shiels Division all-star team three times and cracked the all-Canadian squad twice.
In 2014, her final season at Western, she led the team to a third-place finish in the nation championship tournament and was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) player of the year. Not surprisingly, Josephson was also named team MVP and was one of three nominees for Western’s Female Athlete of the Year. She was also nominated for the F.W.P. Jones Trophy, which is awarded to the female student athlete who has made the greatest contribution to intercollegiate athletics within the university.
Along with that success, Josephson has also overcome her share of adversity in recent years, battling back from an injury that could have ended her playing career.
“The last couple of years have been crazy. Going from being selected for Super Series 2015 to not being sure if I could continue playing at all, to now being named to the team for the biggest tournament for women’s 15s. It’s been quite a roller coaster,” she said.
“I sent a message to my trainer, Jeff Watson, once I got the email saying ‘Oh my God, we actually did it!’ The support I’ve had from Jeff, my family and teammates has been amazing. I wouldn’t have made it here without them.”
Josephson was first named to the national team roster back in March for a two-game series against the U.S. that resulted in a pair of convincing wins for the Canadian squad.
She kept her spot for a recent exhibition tour to New Zealand. Canada finished third in the event with a 28-16 loss to the host Black Ferns, a 27-20 defeat to England and a resounding 45-5 win over Australia.
“It was a really great tour. We had some tough outcomes but it highlighted the things we need to fix for Ireland. It was exactly the preparation we needed and It really lit a fire in us for the upcoming games,” Josephson said.
“Another really great aspect of the tour was experiencing the Maori culture and getting involved with some of the schools there doing some fun rugby activities with the kids. Not to mention getting to watch some great rugby as the British Lions tour was going on while we were there too! New Zealand is definitely a rugby lovers place to go, I look forward to going back some day.”
The 28-player roster for the World Cup was announced last week by head coach Francois Ratier.
Along with 18 returning players from the 2014 World Cup squad, which won silver, the roster features 10 new additions including Josephson.
“I would say our capacity to respond to challenges is the greatest strength of this squad,” Ratier said.
“We were hard on players in New Zealand and during the Can-Am Series to make sure they were not in the team just to wear the jersey but to perform in every game. They have responded well and we are expecting the same during this tough World Cup.”
Heading into the competition, Canada is ranked third in the world. They’re included in a pool with the second-ranked squad from New Zealand, tenth-ranked Wales and 23rd-ranked Hong Kong. All three pool games will take place at Billings Park UCD in Dublin.
“First we need to get through the pool. With this tournament format there is no room for mistakes,” Ratier said.
“We will take it one game at a time and we will see where we are at the end but right now our entire focus is on the game against Hong Kong.”
Canada will take the field against Hong Kong on Aug. 9, Wales on Aug. 13 and New Zealand on Aug. 17. All of the games will be broadcast live on TSN.
“I would like to congratulate all the players who have been selected for Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup squad,” said Jim Dixon, Rugby Canada’s general manager of performance and rugby operations.
“The team has been working incredibly hard under Francois’ leadership and we are all looking forward to a strong campaign in Ireland.”