Emily Tuttosi sat in the stands and saw herself playing on the field one day.
The native Souris, Man., was in England in April 2018 with her female rugby teammates from the University of Calgary Dinos to play a series of matches against universities in the area. While traveling, the Dinos managed to fit it into their schedule to be in West London to watch the Saracens Women beat the Harlequins Ladies for the inaugural Premier 15s – the name of England’s best women’s rugby league – title. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’d love to live and play here,'” Tuttosi told the free press about Zoom.
Not only did Tuttosi have the talent to play at that level, but she also had an in. One of her Calgary coaches had a connection to one of the league’s clubs: the Loughborough Lightning. With Tuttosi as a four-time Canada Western all-star and two-time Westman High School Rugby champion with the Souris Sabers, the Lightning were happy to welcome Tuttosi into the fold.
Despite her humble beginnings in Souris, a small town of just over 2,600 just south of Brandon, Tuttosi had officially achieved one of the most respected leagues in women’s rugby.
“People here have never heard of Manitoba,” Tuttosi said with a laugh. “…It’s pretty surreal because when I played in Souris with players older than me and went to play college rugby, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so cool. I could play rugby in college?’ And now that I’ve pushed through to play in the premiership and at international level, it’s still a little wild. If you had asked me five years ago if I’d be here, I probably wouldn’t have known how to answer. ”
Tuttosi, a former captain of the Canadian under-20 national team, spent two seasons at Loughborough before signing with the Exeter Chiefs. It was a huge asset for the Chiefs as Tuttosi, whose position is hooker, was named the club’s 2020-21 Player of the Year. There are five Americans in the squad, as well as four Canadians. The Exeter Rugby Club was founded in 1871 but only had a women’s team last year.
“To be chosen by the staff and the players as someone who had an impact on this club in the first season was really cool and a huge honor. I realized how privileged I am to be here week after week for a shirt. play.” … I love this club and I like to play rugby and others saw that too,” said Tuttosi.
“The people here have never heard of Manitoba.”
– Emily Tuttosi
The price is appreciated, but the piece of hardware was not the most satisfying part of playing abroad. For the 26-year-old Tuttosi, it sees the growth of the women’s game. The league is in its fifth season and still has a long way to go (most players, excluding Tuttosi, are unpaid), but progress is being made.
“For the younger girls, they’re just so excited because there’s a clear path. Now they can be on TV too. Our games are streamed on BBC, which is huge for women’s rugby because when I was 14 I absolutely never saw that. Now for the next generation to come, they have something to look at and something to aspire to.”
Tuttosi also has something to strive for. She hopes to earn a spot on Canada’s senior women’s team for the 2022 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October. After helping the No. 4 Canadians beat the No. 6 Americans twice to win the World Rugby Pacific Four Series in Glendale, Colorado, in November, Tuttosi will qualify for the big event later this year. .
“I was on the margins (to make the national team). Obviously I played here, but I just didn’t get a call back, which is hard as an athlete,” said Tuttosi, who has a twin sister named Amy who used to play rugby. played at the University of Acadia.
“I realized how privileged I am to be working here week after week on a shirt… I love this club and I love playing rugby and others saw that too.”
– Emily Tuttosi
“But I loved rugby and wasn’t going to stop playing here to get better. So the call back (for the World Rugby Pacific Four Series) was quite special. A lot of time and effort went into it and it was great to pay off. My mindset now is to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Exeter would be happy if Tuttosi continued to do what she does, as she has helped the club to three consecutive wins. The Chiefs are currently at 8-0-3 on the season, putting them in third place on the table. Last week, they defeated the defending champion Harlequin 18-17 in a match that was pushed to the limit.
Tuttosi has gone from dreaming of playing on the pitch in England to dominating it.
“The chance to fight for a maple leaf shirt is a great reason to be here. This league is one of, if not the best, women’s league in the world. It’s a huge privilege to play in it. Because right now , for where I am, I’m willing to put off other things to essentially live the dream now.”
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor started the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.
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