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Three Local Rugby Stars Shine on Team Manitoba


Three local rugby players signed up to take part in the Parkland Pirates Rugby Club to help enhance their play. However, they did much more than that after impressing their coach.
From July 25 - 28, Breanna Sakal, Kara Kosolowsky and Aurora Rusk travelled to Kelowna, B.C. to take part in the Western Canadian Rugby Championships (WCRC) tournament as part of the Team Manitoba U16 Rugby Team.
The girls, along with their teammates, were able to leave the tournament with a record of two wins and four losses over the course of three days of rugby.
“The performance of the team was exactly what I was hoping for,” said Team Manitoba U16 Girls’ Rugby Head Coach Rod Carberry. “The last game as a team was fantastic. We don’t put a lot of pressure on the players to win, we focus our attentions on being better than the game before.”
Carberry noted that there was a noticeable difference in the Swan Valley girls right from their first practice in June.
“All three girls learned the importance of playing in a structured game and having a system,” he said. “They were a very important part to the team system and always contributed during their time on the field.
Kosolowsky played the Lock position and used her fearlessness to aid her team.
“She has no problem leaning in to make some huge tackles for the team,” said Carberry. “She is young and has very little time on a rugby pitch and if she continues on playing rugby beyond high school she will be catching the eye of provincial coaches all the way up through the pathway. Kara is very coachable and really stood out on the field defensively and I absolutely can’t wait to see where she goes with it.”
Sakal who normally plays Full Back for the SVRSS Tigers was bumped up into a Wing position for her time on Team Manitoba and was able to touch the ball down for a try during her game play.
“Breanna grows as a rugby player with every game and training session,” said Carberry. “She is very consistent on the field and makes very little mistakes – even under pressure. We can tell that Breanna absorbs everything we tell her and does her best to put it into action.”
Rusk plays the Hook position for the SVRSS Tigers and Carberry believed it was her best fit position for the team.
“Aurora, in my opinion, had the most growth as a player,” he said. “We could see the confidence growing inside her every game we played. Aurora’s position puts her in one of the two forward running pods on offence and gives her the opportunity to receive the ball quite a bit. She played her position well and received comments from other teams. We believe Aurora should put her focus on this position and continue training specific to it.”
While the trip was mainly focused on the business of the games and the growth of its players, Carberry made sure the girls got the best of both worlds and experienced fun in their off time.
“The trips we take have a healthy balance of competition, development, team bonding and off field activities. We always experience the areas we travel to through hiking, driving and visiting beaches,” he said. “We want to ensure the trips are not all business and has a portion of it that feels like a vacation as well.”
Though they had fun on the trip, the main emphasis remained learning and developing their games further to bring back to the SVRSS Tigers’ season.
“With everything that is going on in a competitive rugby game it’s hard to focus on development when you are in the action and you often default back to what you know,” said Carberry. “It was good to see the athletes putting their training sessions to good use during competitive play. If they continue to focus on the things they learnt they will really develop into amazing rugby players.
“In saying that though you don’t really grow as a player unless you play with and against better players, the more times you can see the right skill being successful the more likely you are to buy in and try it. Once you try it and it works for you it’s there. The sooner an athlete creates good habits with good skills the faster they can grow as a player.
“With the youth of the Swan River team there is some really good opportunity up there for a strong team next year and moving forward,” he continued. “If these girls can bring back some of what they learned and help the team implement it into their games good things will happen.”
Sakal, Kosolowsky and Rusk were identified through playing for Parkland Pirates Rugby Club – a regional based program based out of Dauphin that is available to any players from the Dauphin area and North coached by Carberry.
“The girls attended practices with no intentions of really playing for Team Manitoba until it was suggested they put their name forward for the team,” said Carberry. “I would really like to see more Swan River rugby athletes commit to the Parkland Regional program in both the spring and the fall. We have had a few boys and girls come from up there and if we want to see their region be successful we need the Dauphin Clippers and Swan Valley Tigers to continue to work together to field a competitive club team to compete at Manitoba/Saskatchewan Regionals.”
Playing regional rugby is a mandatory requirement from the Provincial Union to be able to play on the Team Manitoba team.
“We developed Parkland rugby to give Dauphin and Swan River this opportunity and reduce the need to travel to the Westman area based out of Brandon or the Eastman area out of Winnipeg,” said Carberry. “We are committed to growing the game in Dauphin and Swan River.”

Jakki Lumax