A mouse tears up a rugby pitch in England
Emily Tuttosi sat in the stands and imagined herself playing on the court one day.
The Souris, Manitoba native was in England in April 2018 with her University of Calgary Dinos women’s rugby teammates to play a tour of matches against area universities. During the trip, the Dinos managed to fit into their west London schedule to watch Saracens Women defeat Harlequins Ladies for the inaugural Premier 15 title – the name of England’s top women’s rugby league – . “I thought, ‘Oh my God, I would love to live and play here,'” Tuttosi told the Free press on Zoom.
Not only did Tuttosi have the talent to play at this level, but she also had an entrance. One of his Calgary coaches had a connection with one of the clubs in the league: the Loughborough Lightning. With Tuttosi being a four-time Canada West star and a two-time Westman High School Rugby champion with the Mouse Sabres, the Lightning were happy to welcome Tuttosi into the fold.
Despite her humble beginnings in Souris, a small town of just over 2,600 just south of Brandon, Tuttosi officially qualified for one of the most respected leagues in women’s rugby.
“People here haven’t even heard of Manitoba,” Tuttosi said with a laugh. “…It’s kind of surreal because when I was at Souris with players older than me who were going to play college rugby, I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s so cool. I could play college rugby. ‘university?’ And now that I’ve continued to play premiership and at international level, it’s still kind of crazy If you had asked me five years ago if this was where I would be, I wouldn’t probably wouldn’t know how to answer.”
Tuttosi, a former captain of the Canadian Under-20 national team, spent two seasons at Loughborough before signing with the Exeter Chiefs. It was a massive acquisition for the Chiefs as Tuttosi, whose position is a hooker, was named the club’s 2020-21 Player of the Year. There are five Americans on the team as well as four Canadians. Exeter Rugby Club was founded in 1871 but did not have a women’s team until last year.
“To be chosen by the staff and the players as someone who made an impact on this club in its inaugural season was very cool and a huge honour. I realized how privileged I was to play here while working for a jersey week in and week out. … I love this club and I love playing rugby and others have seen it too,” Tuttosi said.
“People here haven’t even heard of Manitoba.
The price is appreciated, but the hardware hasn’t been the most satisfying part of playing overseas. For Tuttosi, 26, it’s the growth of women’s football. The league is in its fifth season and still has a long way to go (most players except Tuttosi are unpaid), but progress is being made.
“For the younger girls they’re so excited because there’s a clear path. Now they can be on TV too. Our games are shown on the BBC which is huge for women’s rugby because when I I was 14, I’ve certainly never seen this. . Now for the next generation to come, they have something to look out for and something to aim for.”
Tuttosi also has something to aim for. She’s hoping to land a spot in Canada’s senior women’s team ahead of the 2022 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October. After helping the No. 4-ranked Canadians beat the No. 6-ranked Americans twice to win the World Rugby Pacific Four Series in Glendale, Colorado in November, Tuttosi will be in consideration for the big event later this year.
“I was on the sidelines (of making the national team). Obviously I played here, but I just didn’t get called up, which is difficult as an athlete,” Tuttosi said. , who has a twin sister named Amy who played rugby at Acadia University.
“I realized how privileged I was to play here working for a shirt week in and week out… I love this club and I love playing rugby and others have seen it too.”
“But I loved rugby and I wasn’t going to stop playing here to improve. So to be called up (for the World Rugby Pacific Four Series) was quite special. A lot of work and time went into that. and for it was great to pay. My mindset now is to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Exeter would be happy if Tuttosi keeps doing what she does as she has helped the club to three straight wins. The Chiefs currently sit 8-0-3 on the season, which puts them in third place on the table. Last week they beat the defending league champions Harlequin 18-17 in a game that went to the wire.
Tuttosi went from dreaming of playing on the pitch in England to dominating it.
“The opportunity to fight for a jersey with a maple leaf is a huge reason to be here. This league is one of the best, if not the best women’s league in the world. Playing here is a huge privilege. For right now, for where I am, I’m willing to put off other things to basically live the dream right now.”
Eighteen-year-old and still in high school, Taylor made his Free Press debut on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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