Veteran back Brittany Waters retires after distinguished 16-year rugby career

Brittany Waters flew home from the 2010 Women’s Rugby World Cup in England to present the final project in her master’s degree in occupational therapy at the University of British Columbia.

Then she jetted back to the tournament.

“I was literally home for four hours,” Waters recalled. “I was happy that I could get back to the (World Cup) games as soon as possible. It was definitely hard on the body — the flight.

“But at that time it was what I had to do in order to balance both my career and may athletic career.”

The 34-year-old Waters, who also played in the 2014 and ‘17 World Cups and 2009 and ‘13 Sevens World Cups, has announced her retirement from rugby.

But she continues with the sport in her role as coach of the University of Victoria women’s team. And the Vancouver native continues as an occupational therapist.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” she said in an interview Thursday. “I can’t believe it has been 16 years. It doesn’t seem that long at all. And five World Cups.

“What I love about it is every tournament, every experience has been so unique. Obviously I’ve had many highs and many lows. But I’m grateful for all of those experiences. You learn so much about yourself.”

Canadian captain Kelly Russell also announced her retirement recently. She too is giving back to the sport, coaching at the Canada Sevens Academy in Toronto.

“It’s good for women’s rugby,” former women’s coach Francois Ratier said of the players moving into coaching.

A winger who later transitioned to outside centre, Waters’ versatility sometimes meant time on the bench because as a utility back she could cover several roles. She brought plenty to the table with Ratier pointing to her experience, tackling, pace, timing and the ability to run a good line.

Waters grew up played basketball and volleyball and went on to play netball for Canada. But she fell into rugby by accident at university.

Looking for an Ultimate Frisbee practice, she stumbled on the UVic women’s rugby team. While her father and brother played rugby, she did not know women played the game.

“it was kind of a fateful day. I watched the girls play and i thought this looked incredible,” she said.

She played five years at UVic, which led to her being scouted by national team coaches.

Waters made her 15s debut in 2008 in England against the U.S. And she played at the inaugural sevens World Cup in 2009 in Dubai. In 2013, she was part of Rugby Canada’s first centralized program.

Waters was part of the Canadian squads that finished runner-up at the 2013 sevens World Cup and at the 2014 15s World Cup.

In 2014, Waters started a tense semifinal against host France that saw the Canadian women win 18-16 to move into the final against England.

Waters has coached UVic for three years and spent another year as an assistant coach there. She has plenty of experience on her coaching staff with fellow national team players Julianne Zussman, Kim Donaldson and Mandy Marchak.

Current Canadian captain Laura Russell, Kelly’s sister, has also helped out.

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