While most Canada West athletes played less last year, Abby Duguid of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns women’s rugby team used the cancelled season to grow her game.
“I made the decision to attempt to move across the globe in a pandemic,” Duguid laughed. “I went overseas and played for the Loughborough Lightning in England, in the premiership.”
Working towards being a teacher, Duguid was able to continue her studies while in the U.K., while training full time, and seeing plenty of game action.
“A U Sports season — as great as it is — it’s maybe eight to 10 games max, if you make it all the way to the final at nationals,” she said. “And I think in the half-season, I was (in England). I played in 14 games.”
Duguid was injured just two games into the season in 2019, a year that was supposed to be her final one with the Pronghorns. But she was able to save that final year of eligibility.
‘Horns head coach Graeme Moffat said he was thrilled to hear that the veteran lock wanted to return for a fifth year and bring her wealth of experience to the group.
“When we knew she had to come back to finish her education degree, we were just excited,” Moffat said.
“The leadership she brings, the experience that she has, and, you know, the girls certainly look up to her. And the way that she plays, you know, she leads by example. She plays hard.”
While in the U of L teaching program, Duguid is working full time completing her practicum. She said while balancing teaching and rugby has been a challenge, she wouldn’t dream of giving up her final year with the ‘Horns, and a final chance to win with the program.
“I took that time off and I went away, but I get to come back and finish it off, finish my time here, finish my education and finish with girls that I started with,” she said. “A lot of us had to wait for injury or wait for this COVID year to come back, so I think there’s three of us that all started in 2015 together, and we’re back on the field.”
Duguid made her first senior national team appearance for Canada in 2018. Over the summer, she was invited — alongside fellow Pronghorns senior Keegan Brantner — to a three-day Rugby Canada camp in Victoria.
Duguid said right now her focus is firmly on building on the Pronghorns’ strong start to the season, but down the road, she plans to return to play in England, with the ultimate goal being to represent Canada at next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The Pronghorns opened the year with a 53-7 win over the University of Alberta and are ranked eighth in the country heading into Week 2. They will face the University of Calgary Dinos on Friday in Calgary.