from Rugby Canada website by Bryan Kelly
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Team spent Saturday afternoon at the historic Vimy Ridge National Site of Canada, five days after the 100th Year Anniversary of the commencement of the First World War.
The trip to the monument and war trenches took place one day after Canada defeated Spain 31-5 to open the 2014 IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in Marcoussis, France.
Vimy Ridge is a major source of pride for all Canadians, as 100 years ago thousands of young men gave their lives to help secure a great victory for the Allies.
At that time, Canada was a relatively young nation, and the victory proved to unite the country under strength, honour and integrity.
“Every time you wear a jersey for Canada, or see the Canadian flag, you have to remember how truly lucky we are and this place is a great source of pride,” said Canada Assistant Coach, Gary Dukelow.
“My grandfather was also here, so for me it’s an even bigger significance and I was fortunate to be here with Canada’s Men’s Team during the 1991 World Cup, and we had a great tournament that year too,” added Dukelow.
The Canadian team, along with travelling family members, took to the trenches and toured both the Canadian and German occupied areas before visitng the monument and Canadian cemetery.
Manitoba native Mandy Marchak – who’s playing in her third Women’s Fifteens World Cup – added her thoughts on visiting the historic site.
“We’re really lucky and fortunate to come to Vimy Ridge today with it being such a big piece of Canadian history. We got to see the underground tunnels, the trenches where they fought and it wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity and support of the Canadian Rugby Foundation, so we’re appreciative of them,” said Marchak.
Information on Vimy Ridge:
“At daybreak on April 9, 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps (aided by the British 5th Division and a considerable number of artillery units), fighting together for the first time, stormed the Ridge. Preceded by a perfectly-timed artillery barrage, the Canadians advanced and, by mid-afternoon, had taken all their objectives except Hill 145 which was captured the following day. Then on April 12, the 4th Canadian Division with the British 24th Division on their left flank, took the Pimple at the northern end of the Ridge.
The hard-fought victory was swift, but did not come without cost. Out of 10,602 casualties, 3,598 Canadians gave their lives.
The victory at Vimy was a significant landmark for Allied fortunes in the First World War and back home in Canada, it united Canadians and brought honour and pride to the young nation.”
(Information via official on-site pamphlet, created by Veteran Affairs Canada)
Canada’s visit to Vimy Ridge would not have been possible without the support of the Canadian Rugby Foundation!