By Adam Prudhomme
Erika Barton’s first experience at the national level was a memorable one as she helped Canada’s U18 rugby team sweep the U.S. in a two game series held at Ottawa University last week.
The Napanee native was named to the starting lineup in the first game, held Aug. 1.
The Canadians were all over their U.S. counterparts in that game, building a 29-12 lead at half and closing out the game with a 58-12 victory.
“I actually made it through a full game,” laughed Barton, who has dealt with a seemingly endless parade of injuries all season. “I wasn’t coming off that field.”
Her determination paid off as she was able to walk off the field with her teammates as they celebrated their victory.
“It’s a lot faster game,” Barton said of playing in an international series. “Not to down the club teams, it’s just a higher level. All the athletes here are all really good, it just brings your speed up.”
The second game was a little closer as the Canadian coach looked to get the reserves into some game action. Barton started the game as a reserve as the Canadians picked up a 25-5 victory to sweep the series.
“It was unreal,” Barton said of the experience. “I hope to play with a lot of these girls again, they were really good rugby players and super nice people.”
Barton says although she loves to travel, she was fortunate the international tournament was held just a short drive from Napanee, allowing friends and family to witness her play her first game in a Canadian kit.
Prior to last week Barton’s highest level of play with with Team Ontario, as well as club play with the Kingston Panthers and at the high school KASSAA level as a member of the NDSS Golden Hawks. She’s hoping to take the lessons she learned from the U18 series and will look to make the long list for next year’s national U20 team.
In the more immediate future however she’ll hope to heal her bumps and bruises as best she can over the next two weeks before reporting for training camp with the Guelph Gryphons for her freshman season. The OUA season is slated to get underway on Sept. 2.