From the track to the turf Med school hopeful Laura Morrison decided to switch sports from track to rugby in her fourth year, and is already among the best in the province


As a fourth-year Health Sciences student, Laura Morrison had only ever watched one rugby match.

Prior to her time as an athlete for the Marauders rugby team, Morrison was a varsity track and cross country standout, a golfer, a hockey and soccer player, a badminton star, and even had a stint in ballet.

But after years of trying and succeeding at virtually every sport she has played or taken part in, it’s safe to say Morrison has finally found her calling in rugby.

In her third year, after two successful seasons of varsity cross country and track, Morrison had a couple of injuries that held her back from training for cross country and track competitively.

“I was injured and didn’t really have a sport that I was playing or training for. In the beginning, I did some swimming to try to stay fit, just to be doing something,” said Morrison.

But after one of her friends approached her with the idea of training to try out for the rugby team, she wasn’t opposed to it, but it wasn’t something she was seriously pursuing.

“I was just interested in their strength and conditioning program for fun, I had no intention in playing rugby,” said Morrison.

But after making the decision to quit running competitively after a season of injuries and wanting to pursue something new, she decided that maybe it was time to give rugby a try with her friend, Katie Perry.

Ever since she made that decision, she has never looked back.

“It’s a combination of all the other sports I played. I could use my speed on the wing, but it also kind of combined the physicality and intensity of hockey and soccer, so I fell in love with it and decided I wanted to try out for Mac,” said Morrison.

Morrison decided to contact the coaches – Shaun Allen, Amber Purins and Tim Doucette – about playing for the team, and after trying out and succeeding in September, she was named to the Marauders roster.

But Morrison had a lot of catching up to do when she first made the team.

The majority of the Marauders have played rugby before, coming in as a fourth year and never playing the sport put her at a disadvantage.

But after putting in the time for her entire third year, switching her runs to lifting weights, squatting, and benching, she managed to build up her muscle and strength which she has been able to maintain all of this year.

And her track background has helped her considerably on the pitch, especially in the Sevens game.

“In 15s there’s a lot less room on the field, so speed can only take you so far. Although I can use my speed if there happens to be a gap on the outside, I still need more work on that particular game,” said Morrison.

“But Sevens on the other hand, there’s tonnes of space, and there’s almost always gaps on the outside so anytime I get the ball my sole goal is to burn someone on the outside and usually there’s enough space and enough support to make that break, and I don’t necessarily have to worry about their size because I’m hoping I’ll be fast enough to avoid that contact.”

At the National University Rugby Sevens Championship in early March, Morrison was able to prove that.

She managed to score seven tries at the tournament, using her speed to get by her opposition.

Her ability to showcase her talent in this tournament is something that is extremely impressive, especially since she tore her meniscus during the varsity season.

“I took some time off and I got surgery, and as soon as I was heeled up I was right back to the off-season training,” said Morrison.

After taking time off, Morrison and some of the other Marauders decided to join a Saturday night co-ed rugby league in preparation for the University Sevens Championship, which has kept her in her best rugby form.

Although Morrison has only played rugby for a year, she is looking to maintain the work she has put into the sport thus far, and is planning on pursuing the sport even further.

“My biggest regret is that I didn’t know about rugby before university, really,” said Morrison.

“I never heard or participated in the sport. And a lot of the development programs that go on are for u-16, u-18, or u-20, so I’m past that point.”

Morrison’s rugby career is not over, however.

She still has two years of eligibility, and as she is currently undergoing the interview process for med school here at Mac and at Western, she is hoping she’ll be able to use those two years wherever she might end up.

She was also invited to play on one of the Ontario teams that will be playing against Colombia’s national team in a Sevens tournament which gets underway in April.

As it stands right now, Morrison is preoccupied with her med school interviews and her involvement in Right to Play and Mac Athletes Care.

If her medical school plans don’t pan out, Morrison plans on travelling.

“Maybe I’ll move to Australia. The world is my oyster, really.”


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Author: Laura Sinclair

Laura is the Sil's senior sports editor.