Napanee’s Britt Benn has been named Rugby Canada’s Women’s Sevens Player of the Year for 2019.
The award, which is voted on by the fans, was presented virtually by Rugby Canada via Facebook Live last week.
“To me, it’s such a team sport,” Benn, speaking from Victoria B.C. where she is once again training with Team Canada, said on being named Player of the Year. “There’s nothing about that sport that’s individual. When an individual athlete is selected, there’s a moment of happiness for yourself, but then there’s a moment of pride from your team and your family. The girls I play beside are the girls that push my physical limits. We break barriers everyday and we push our bodies harder than we thought was possible.”
Benn was once again a key member of the Canadian women’s team last season, helping them qualify for the 2020 Olympics, which were scheduled to take place this summer in Tokyo, Japan. The games have since been pushed to 2021 following the COVID-19 outbreak. Canada earned its ticket to 2020 by finishing in the top four of the HSBC World Series season.
Benn, who has been a finalist for the Player of the Year award for the last three years, says the honour comes following a difficult time in her career. Her plans to retire after the 2020 Olympics were thrown for a loop when the games were postponed. After taking a few weeks of reflection, she committed to playing again in 2021.
“There was definitely some doubts and ups and downs, it’s a high performance sport so there’s days when you want to throw in the towel and there’s days when it’s all worth it,” said Benn. “There’s moments when you’re on a podium and everything seems like it was worth it at the time. There’s no doubt about it I don’t regret that decision at all, I’m happy I came back and continue to pursue rugby because there’s going to be a day when I wake up and I’m physically not going to be able to play rugby.”
The postponement of the 2020 games allowed Benn to move back to Napanee for four months. That marked the longest she had been away from her team since joining the Olympic program, which usually trains 11 months of the year in B.C.
“That was a big eye opener and you become grateful for your teammates,” said Benn. “I’m very thankful for the award and my support systems, my family are incredible fans, incredible supporters. There are days when I’m sure they question why I’m still playing this sport when I’m FaceTiming them with a broken nose or stitches in my face. And of course my community, the support is overwhelming at times. I couldn’t be more grateful to come from such a supportive community because there’s women on this team that come from big cities and they don’t have that kind of support from their hometown just because it’s so large. I’m from a small town and you walk in a grocery store and everybody knows you.”
She says she takes pride in the fact the award is decided by fans because that means they’re watching her career and hopes that will lead to more female athletes chasing their dreams.
“I hope one day they let their daughters play or their nieces and grow women in sport and grow youth in sport. There’s many of us on the team that they could look up to,” said Benn.