Shoshanah Seumanutafa's road to rugby success, was a far cry from traditional. What marks the way is determination and a great deal of passion for her sport.
With the women’s rugby team season wrapping up, Seumanutafa’s focus remains on the future of her team. Despite the success they faced throughout the year the Surrey native admitted that they “didn’t do too hot in nationals but moving forward, we have a solid platform to build off from”.
She added that leaving the season on a loss was “difficult and not what we wanted to accomplish, but looking at how far we have come from last year, how the program is building is encouraging”. The Canada West Champions suffered two losses at the end of the seasons against the UniversitE de Laval Rouge et Or and the St. Francis Xavier University X-Women. These loses were the first since the team opened their season lost two in a row in the front half of September.
These sentiments made it clear that even though it was tough to end the season on a loss, it gives the team somewhere to grow too. Seumanutafa has been a part of the growth of her team since their 2017-2018 season and has watched as the squad progress to where it is today.
She cites her coach Dean Murten, who previously lead the rugby department of rugby at the BC Provincial Sporting Organization for four and a half years, as making a big impact on the team
“[We] only had a full-time coach for two years has done a lot to build up our program, with a fuller roster” Seumanutafa added.
Last year they won bronze, following a win versus the University of Alberta Pandas. Seumanutafa acknowledges that “they hadn’t gotten as many wins as they wanted”.
It is Seumanutafa’s drive that paved a path for success, despite being a late start in rugby. The third-year arts student didn’t play a competitive game of rugby until she was in the 11th grade, but she had been surrounded by the game as her father and other family members had played it.
It meant that the game wasn’t entirely new. Having previously played soccer also gave her great kick start. When Seumanutafa wanted to switch over to rugby, her father wanted to make sure she was 100 per cent ready for the more physical sport that he was a veteran of.
When she was ready, her father fully supported her but Seumanutafa did not begin by entering a league. Instead her and “her dad purely just brought me out [to play]”.
They focused on skill work and breaking down the game. This was a family affair; her brothers also came out to help train her. This one-one form of training proved successful. Her first game played with other girls took place in Las Vegas; it was for the provincial BC team. Once back from her first game, she that trained more with her father before playing club and attempting to play for another high school, as the one she went to did not have one.
Seumanutafa's constant strive to improve was demonstrated early throughout her career and into her first few seasons with the Thunderbirds.
Her father may have best summed it up saying “this is your third year you’ve come so far this is your year, you have to win”. He stated this before this season and she credits this for being her mindset for the season. It encapsulates the idea that with each year not just Seumanutafa has improved but the team and UBC program has as well. Each year has been a stepping stone, Seumanutafa stated “our main goal from last year was to win Can West, and we achieved that”. So, with being named Canada West Champions behind herself and her team, the goal for next year is to win. This time the goal is nationals. They have the platform as Seumanutafa noted to build on; last year bronze, this year champions, and according to Seumanutafa next year nationals. However, before that begins, she is headed this weekend to a sunnier and warmer place; San Diego. Heading south of the border she is headed down to represent Canada, as they play the Women’s American national team. While it’s not a break from rugby, it is a break from the rainy Vancouver weather. She was quick to note that her wait for 20-degree weather was days not months away.