CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

October 12, 2000 Rugby has a champion in Margaret Thompson



Photo of Margaret Thompson

Coach Margaret Thompson

Action shot of rugby game

Action shot of rugby game

by David Weatherall

When Marge Thompson last played for Concordia in 1994, her women’s rugby team won the provincial championship. Before that, she had won three Canadian College Athletic Association provincial championships with John Abbott College and enjoyed great success with her summer club in St. Anne de Bellevue.

Now 26, she is back at Concordia as assistant coach, working with head coach Sheila Turner.
Thompson is also serving a three-year term as vice-president of the FRQ (Fedération du Rugby au Québec). “It wasn’t until a male put his hand up to volunteer for the position at the board meeting that it clicked in me that it was important that a female hold that position,” Thompson said.

As FRQ vice-president, she is responsible for the smooth operation of the league, the officiating and any disciplinary actions that need to be taken in order to maintain fair competition. She is excited about the prospect of being in charge of the development of women’s rugby in Quebec, and says the future is bright for current and aspiring female players.

“The nationals are being held in Montreal next year and I hope to have a role in organizing that,” she said. “There’s also talk of an international tournament here next summer. The time is right for women’s rugby to expand in Quebec.”

She made an important point about the development of young players in Quebec: There isn’t any.
“Out west, they’re putting rugby balls in the hands of five- or six-year-olds,” she said. “The parents and everyone involved are all dedicated to the program there.

“I’d like to see that start here, maybe not with five- or six-year-olds just yet, but I would like to see more high school teams, so that we can start to develop players at a younger age. It’s the same situation wherever you coach. It’s much easier to teach when you’re not struggling for numbers at practices.”
She is enthusiastic about the potential. “The FRQ have placed Patricia Puyau in charge of junior development. She is energetic and dedicated to promoting the sport. She’s also determined to bring rugby into the French schools.”

Thompson’s own playing days are not over. The veteran of five Quebec provincial teams was forced out of the Canada Cup this year by an injury. As luck would have it, it was the first year Quebec took home the national championship, knocking off nemesis Ontario in the semi-final to earn a berth in the final, where they beat British Columbia.

“Quebec wasn’t even going to send a team in 1996 — the program had pretty much fallen apart — so we had to fundraise to get the cash together. We eventually managed to get the money, went off to Calgary and finished fifth. Quebec has basically developed that same team as their core, and this year they won.”

Thompson would have loved to be part of that winning team, but for now, the Stingers require her full attention, as they prepare to duke it out for the league championship.

Four national champs on the Stingers women's rugby team

It should come as no surprise that the Concordia women’s rugby team is off to a fast start this season. With four national champs contributing to their line-up, they should be hard to beat.

Stinger coach Sheila Turner and players Sommer Christie, Candace Patterson and Joanne Auger all suited up for Quebec at the national championships, held in Vancouver at the end of August. Quebec won the championship, upsetting British Columbia 27-10 in the final.

“It was a great experience for all the girls,” Turner said. “We’re getting more media exposure now, as well.”

Patterson said her first experience at the nationals has helped her game. “I was surrounded by mountains and all these great players,” she said with a laugh. She played for Macdonald High School and John Abbott College before joining the Stingers, and said the recognition is building for the Stingers and the sport in general.

“It’s nice to see, because it was a male-dominated sport at first,” she said. “Now, people are being turned on to women’s rugby.”

- John Austen