Submitted photo Ballenas Whalers Trysha Rybo has only played two years of rugby but she’s already made some headway in the sport having been selected to the BC U16 squad and was invited to the BC Youth Elite 7’s program.

Parksville’s Rybo is fast becoming a ruck star

Newcomer from the Philippines named to BC U16 and elite sevens program

Trysha Rybo is still getting used to life in Canada. Having moved to Parksville from the Philippines three years ago, Rybo, who attends Ballenas Secondary, has been exposed to a multitude of experiences that she would never have dreamed of engaging in at her country of origin.

One of them is rugby.

Rybo said she wasn’t interested in the sport and blames her friends for pushing her to try it out. That was two years ago.

“I didn’t really want to but my friends forced me to go with them and play,” she recalled. “And when I did, I just loved tackling. It’s a rough sport but I like it.”

Rybo, who is more passionate about basketball, the most popular sport in the Philippines, learned rugby quickly under Ballenas coach Olivia Hill. And her natural talent has not gone unnoticed. This summer, Rybo made it to the BC U16 squad and from there she was also selected to participate in the BC Youth Elite 7s program.

“I was really surprised to receive an email from BC Rugby,” said Rybo. “I also feel proud about it because I come from the Philippines where we don’t play rugby. To be invited was just a big honour for me.”

Rybo had the opportunity to train with the province’s top young rugby players in Vancouver and also joined the elite 7s program which is focused on identifying and developing talent for Rugby Sevens events.

“It was a great experience for me,” said Rybo. “I learned a lot more about rugby as well as made a lot of friends along the way. I was nervous at first but I got over that quickly.”

Hill, who has elevated the popularity of rugby at Ballenas Secondary, drawing over 40 eager girls to play the game last season, said “Trysha’s success is an amazing story.”

“A true testament to her passion and determination on the pitch,” said Hill. “She is a fierce competitor, and has excelled rapidly since first picking up a rugby ball not even two years ago. Just goes to show how far you can go in sports, when you are open to learning, and devoted to improving.”

School rugby doesn’t start until spring and Rybo said she just can’t wait to get back on the field. She is only in Grade 11 and aims to continue honing her skills. In rugby sevens she plays forward and back while in 15s she takes the flank and forward role.

“I just love to play defence and support my teammates,” said Rybo. “I love rucking.”

For now, Rybo will be focusing on her other passion, which is basketball. She used to do track and field in the Philippines but she just doesn’t have the time.

“I have to be selective on the activities that I can do,” said Rybo, who also works at Stanford Seniors Home in Parksville as a dietary aid and also at While Elephant after school.

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