SCOTSBURN — Rugby and school continue to run parallel to each other for Emma Taylor.
The Canadian national team member and former rugby champion with the St. Francis Xavier X-Women has been playing rugby and attending school in Ireland for the past three years.
Most recently, she has been completing a Masters degree in project management at the University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School while playing for Railway Union Rugby Football Club in the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Taylor hopes to move to Halifax after graduating in August.
“Right now, my interest is in the construction industry,” she said. “I’d like to do new-builds. There are so many buildings going up in Halifax, and after three years (in Ireland) I want to be home.”
Taylor plays in the pack for her rugby team. Her size, quickness and height have made her a versatile asset on teams she has played on.
“I’ve been playing back row, anywhere from No. 6 to No. 8, but I can go anywhere from four to eight,” she said. “It’s very good rugby.”
Her team entered the holiday break tied for first place in the seven-team standings.
Several of Taylor’s teammates are members of the Irish national women’s team.
Playing a short rugby schedule has complemented Taylor’s life so that she can balance school, rugby and work.
“I work part-time at the rugby club and coach high school rugby a couple of times a week,” she said. “I kind of like to step back from playing. I’m just trying to enjoy rugby — the more I enjoy it, the better I play.”
Taylor played other sports before rugby became the top one for her. She played rugby at Northumberland Regional High School soon after it opened in 2003 before joining the X-Women.
“It’s probably the biggest part of my life,” she said. “At Northumberland it was just getting started. Now there are so many opportunities. National rugby has many high profile opportunities.”
Taylor hopes to play some national rugby this summer and has considered trying out for Canada’s national team that is preparing for the ninth Women’s Rugby World Cup that New Zealand will host in 2021.
Dublin co-hosted the previous event with Belfast, Northern Ireland in 2017.
“I wouldn’t rule that out,” she said. “Playing in 2021 would be a bonus, but I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket.”
Taylor sees a distinction between how Canada and Ireland approach rugby. Canada emphases fitness, while Ireland can apply more teamwork and more frequent matches as a smaller country. The Irish game also utilizes more of the pitch and swings the ball to the backs more than Canada does.
“Here they expect you to stay in shape and come to camp ready,” she said. “In Ireland, there’s more competition. They play together more. I’ll play 20 games this season. No one in Canada can get that volume of game time, but we’re working well with what we have. I’m training, I’m playing and I know I’m in shape.”
Emma Taylor stands beside the Christmas tree at her family’s home near Scotsburn. Taylor has been home for a month-long break from her studies and rugby career in Ireland. (Goodwin photo)