The second annual Lt. Colonel W.D.C. Holmes Awards were recently presented at the awards banquets at the U SPORTS Women’s Rugby Championship in Victoria, BC and the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship in Vancouver, BC.
The Lt. Col. W.D.C. Holmes Awards are presented by Foundation Chair Michael Holmes in memory of his late father Lt. Col. W.D.C. Holmes, who won the sword of honour at RMC in 1942 before embarking on a distinguished career in the British Army during and after World War II.
A total of 16 rugby student-athletes from the qualifying women’s and men’s teams were recognized for their off-field contributions to the game of rugby at their university and community in the past year, while their university team’s Athletic Financial Awards (AFAs) were enhanced with $500 cheques from the Canadian Rugby Foundation’s W.D.C. Holmes Award Fund. Examples of factors to be considered could include organizing community events involving the team, mentoring younger players, volunteering with their home rugby club or at the community in which the university is located, volunteering as a club executive or an official at any level, and providing off-the-field leadership on the university team.
November 3, 2022 – Women’s Rugby
The following rugby student-athletes were honoured at the U SPORTS women’s rugby championships:
LAVAL – Annabelle Parent
Year: 5, Program: Sports Intervention
Annabelle is a driving force in rugby development in the Quebec City region. As a rookie rugby ambassador, she has introduced over 3000 kids to the game in the past year. Last summer, she completed an internship with Rugby Quebec and organized a provincial 7’s tournament. She also coached academies aimed at 14 to 19 years old athletes in the winter and summer. This fall, she keeps transmitting her passion to the next generation of players by coaching at a CEGEP, while performing at a high level as a player in the university league.
OTTAWA – Ngozi Mosindi
Year: 3, Program: Criminology
Ngozi is a third year criminology student. Ngozi’s main off-field role is in player recruitment. For the past two years, Ngozi has been in constant contact with recruits by attending various tournaments across Ontario, hosting zoom meetings, supporting trial days, and maintaining connections.
Whilst her on field role continues to grow, where Ngozi has shaped this program is her involvement with the Ottawa community. She has been an active member of Gee-Gees Women’s Rugby Task Force for Equity and Diversity, hosting various workshops and working with community members in ensuring safer spaces for teammates, particularly young women and girls of colour. Ngozi was instrumental in getting our Jump Start grant funded LEAD program off the ground. LEAD – Leadership Equity Athletes Diversity – is a program intended to keep young girls in sport. Her efforts have proven invaluable as a local area high school now has a sustainable rugby program.
UBC – Rory Wood
Year: 5, Program: Kinesiology
Rory has well as working hard on her game, and in the classroom Rori has been a coach in the Vancouver Thunderbirds mini-rugby program that runs for 20 weeks during the school year. Has well as being a coach Rori put her time in to help with practice planning. Rori has also been a big help with the UBC rugby academy, as well as supporting the younger student athletes within the program.
VICTORIA – Soleil Brooks
Year: 2, Program: Indigenous Studies
Soleil joined our program in 2021 and has been an integral part of building and living our team values, as well as driving our team culture in a positive way. Soleil is a leader on and off the field and is passionate about uplifting BIPOC voices in the community and at the university. In her first year on the team, Soleil helped organize Black History Month education and led a teamwork shop and discussion. Soleil is a member of the Varsity Leadership Council as the women’s rugby representative and embodies all the values of our team – dedication, passion, respect, connection and trust. As part of this council, Soleil is dedicated to being a voice for the BIPOC student-athletes.
Soleil is currently pursuing an undergrad in Indigenous Studies and is interested in going onto the post-degree professional program (PDPP) in the Faculty of Education. She wishes to make a positive impact on the lives of BIPOC youth.
Outside of the Vikes rugby program, Soleil coaches with The British Columbia Grassroots Rugby Foundation, a rugby-centred community development non-profit organization that uses rugby as a tool for social good. The community rugby program ensures that youth in priority neighbourhoods have opportunities to participate in rugby opportunities. Rugby has been a huge part of Soleil’s life and providing positive opportunities to others is important to her. She is dedicated to growing the game in our community, especially for BIPOC youth. I have no doubt Soleil will continue to be a leader on and off the field and achieve her goals.
QUEEN’S – Amelia Stapley
Year: 5, Program: Graduate Studies
Amelia is an incredible ambassador of our program, providing mentoring and guidance to our 1st and 2nd year team members, working actively to create a more inclusive Queen’s Athletics community, and balancing the demands of post-graduate studies and teaching duties. Amelia has also volunteered her time at her local rugby club, coaching mini-rugby and helping pass on her love for the sport.
GUELPH – Brianna Martey
Year: 4, Program: Psychology/Molecular Biology and Genetics
Brianna coaches Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute girls rugby team and
Coached the Guelph Rugby Club U18 team this summer.
She is on the “She’s Got Game” committee which builds the scholarship fund for female athletes at the University of Guelph, and is also on the EDI Committee at the Dept of Athletics to improve the experience of BIPOC athletes at Guelph
UPEI – Brinten Comeau
Year: 5, Program: Sociology
Brinten has been a co-captain for the Panthers the past three seasons. She has been my top performer since she arrived as a rookie.
She gives countless hours back to the program each year, but especially this off season. I can count on Brinten to take on any task I need and it’s always completed efficiently. Whether it’s answering questions around strength and conditioning, volunteering in the community, team kit orders or setting up team/captains meetings. She is someone I count on, on a daily basis.
Also, she was involved with the Nova Scotia Keltics U19 program this summer. She was the team manager/assistant coach. She helped organize and plan a trip to the Atlantic championships in NL, where her team won a gold medal.
She’s had an incredible season! She is my top defensive player, leads the team in dominant tackles, line breaks and rucks hit. Brinten had a team high with eight try’s, was an AUS all star at back row, AUS MVP and will be recognized at the awards banquet tonight as a 1st All Canadian. Only the second time that’s happened in our program and not since 2006. Also, she was an academic All Canadian.
ACADIA – Kenzie Cecchetto
Year: 1 (Graduate), Program: B.Ed
Kenzie is one of our Acadia team captains and assists in the organization of our team-led community events and provides mentorship for young rugby players within our squad.
For her home club of Valley Rugby Union, she has been involved in coaching both rookie and junior levels- taking a grassroots approach to introducing the sport and fostering a love of rugby at a young age. She also assists in coaching at the high school level for her former school, Kings Edgehill, where she encourages her athletes to continue playing for their local club and at the provincial level. Provincially, she is an assistant coach for the U16 Keltics team, and she has captained the U23 NS Keltics provincial team as well as playing with the Sr. Women’s Keltics.
December 3, 2022 – Men’s Rugby
The following rugby student-athletes were honoured at the Canadian University Men’s Rugby Championship (Canadian Rugby Foundation Board member Rick Bourne shown making the presentations):
CALGARY – Peter Wright
Year: 4, Program: Kinesiology
Peter is a phenomanal Human being with commitment and dedication that is unrivaled. He is a member of the exec and our equipment manager. He is the first to training and last to leave. He also organised the run for the cure this year and Gained another award for the University of Calgary as a top performer.
GUELPH – Collin Smibert
Year: 5, Program: Engineering
Collin is a vocal leader while also leading by example through his tireless work rate on and off the field. He holds his peers accountable to their actions and sets academic and athletic standards.
McGILL – Owen Cumming
Year: 4, Program: Political Science
Owen has been the MURFC club president for 2 years and in that role organizes and oversees the leadership of our group. He is an outstanding leader both on the off the field. He is the chair of the MURFC Movember campaign and the leader of our academic mentorship program. He led the committee that hosted the 2019 Covo Cup weekend with Harvard University and leads our annual m24 fundraising campaigns. Owen volunteers with grass roots rugby in local schools and with local clubs and is a recipient of the Jean Beliveau athletic leadership scholarship at McGill.
VICTORIA – Jonas Robinson
Year: 5th, Program: Anthropology
Jonas is captaining the team for his second consecutive year as he finishes up his degree in anthropology. Jonas leads first through his actions, ensuring that he is demonstrating the traits necessary to success at a team level. When it comes to being a vocal leader, Jonas incredibly thoughtful in how he addresses the team. Simply put, when Jonas speaks, people listen, and there is an effect. Jonas is a champion for pushing conversations in our group beyond rugby. His willingness to address difficult, nuanced, and current evolving topics will leave a lasting impact on the culture of our program.
LAURIER – Dylan Di Girolamo
Year: 4, Program: Communication Studies
“He is just as determined to make a difference of the pitch as a leader on campus and in the community.
He created inventive ways to help out people in the community and had the drive to make it happen. Most notably, McNee and Di Girolamo organized a food and clothing drive for Optimism Place, a shelter for women and children, and delivered two pick-up trucks full of clothing and food for their efforts. He was the co-recipient of the 2022 OUA Men’s Rugby Community Service Award along with his Teammate Adam McNee.”
MEMORIAL – Lucas Shortall
Year: 2, Program: Business
Lucas has been involved with Newfoundland rugby since U14 and is heavily involved at all levels of play over the last few years. He now volunteers coaching our mini rugby program, where he started. He provides our team excellent on and off-field leadership
TWU – Erik Nieburh
Year: 4, Program: Psychology with a Human Services certificate
On the field Erik is a powering leader, leading the way in tackles, strong carries and lineout precision. Off the field, Erik along with fellow teammate Fynn Murphy coached the D.W. Poppy Secondary Junior Boys rugby team. Along with coaching Erik is also heavily involved in his practicum at Wagner Hills Rehabilition Center. Finally, Erik is one of the leaders for the Men’s Rugby mandatory study hall.
UBC – James Bliss
Year: 1, Program: Arts
Having previously played for Durham University, the Pacific Pride, and representing Canada at the U20 level, in his first year with UBC, James has established himself as a first team player thanks to his on-field performance, leadership, and commitment to growth.
UBC coaching staff are excited about James’ potential and look forward to supporting his continued growth in a leadership role within the team in the coming years.