ANTIGONISH – Three Pictou County members of the St. Francis Xavier X-Women say they appreciate the experience of having been part of their most recent Canadian university women’s rugby championship season.
Mackenzie Bell, Keely MacCuish and Katie Pentz are members of the X-Men, who won the sixth CIS women’s rugby title in their history with a 41-24 victory over the Gueph Gryphons on November 4 in Wolfville.
Bell played both the flanker and hooker positions for the X-Women this season, while MacCuish was a centre and Pentz was a No. 2 forward.
The X-Women team members were introduced during the university hockey game between UNB and the host X-Men on Friday at the Keating Millennium Centre.
“It was awesome,” said MacCuish, who said she can identify playing university rugby in a small town like Antigonish and winning a national championship in a small town like Wolfville.
Bell said she was impressed with the talent and heart on the team that has won 19 of the past 20 Atlantic women’s rugby championships.
“It was great to play with such a talented bunch of girls,” Bell said. “Their skill level is very high compared to high school, and they did the hard work that went with it.”
Pentz said going to the national championships was like nothing she had experienced in rugby or any other sport.
“It was my first time at a national championship,” she said. “The whole experience was different, very serial.”
All three players had unified praise for X-Women head coach Mike Cavanagh, who has helmed the team since it was first established in 1998.
“He’s a man of few words but he gets it done,” Pentz said.
The playing time for all three local players was limited, something they hope will increase over their time at St. FX.
MacCuish is in her senior year of an arts program and is eligible for one more season. Bell is in her third year pursuing a science degree, while Pentz is in the second year of her nursing program.
The X-Women first won the national championship in 2006. Their 2018 win was their fifth in nine seasons.
From left: Keeley MacCuish, Katie Pentz and Mackenzie Bell hold the CIS women’s rugby championship trophy. (Goodwin photo)