Burnaby Lake standout takes on new coaching role

Three-time women’s rugby World Cup star Julia Sugawara will take the reins of Trinity Western University's new women’s rugby sevens program, it was announced last week.

The Burnaby Lake Rugby Club premier women’s coach will take on the role of the program's first coach. Sugawara, who as a 10-year member of the Canadian national rugby team, and played in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2006, 2010 and 2014, brings a strong pedigree as both a player and a coach.

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A TWU alumnus, Sugawara earned 46 caps with the Canadian team. Along the way, she played her club rugby with both the Burnaby Lake Rugby Club, from 2001 to 2015, and with Saracens Women in London, England, from 2008 to 2009.

She has been an assistant coach with Burnaby’s premier team since 2016. Sugawara also has age-grade coaching experience at the provincial level, having been the head coach of B.C.’s under-16 girls Sevens side in 2016 and an assistant coach with the u17 girls team in 2018.

“Aside from Julia’s extensive coaching and playing background, she is an inspirational leader who will provide incredible leadership to our Spartans women’s program,” said TWU’s director of rugby Andy Evans. “She will set a solid foundation for the future of our program and all of the women who are involved in our program will have such a special person to learn from as they strive to become the best versions of themselves. She has incredible faith and character, and her work ethic is phenomenal. We’re so excited that Julia she is joining Spartan Athletics.”

Internationally, Sugawara’s World Cup experience included a best-ever silver medal-winning performance for Canada in 2014. Individually, she made herself known on the world stage in 2006 in Edmonton, scoring Canada’s lone try in a World Cup match against rugby power New Zealand.

"I'm grateful to Andy Evans and the Spartans athletic department for this opportunity,” Sugawara said. “I feel fortunate to be a part of shaping the foundation of the women's rugby program, especially as it focuses on refining more than just the athletic attributes of the players. I'm looking forward to working alongside a group of student-athletes who are excited about developing themselves on and off the field. The physical and mental challenges of collegiate rugby present an environment which reveals and shapes what athletes are capable of as individuals and as a team and I am excited to play a part in my players' journeys."

Sugawara graduated from SFU in 2005 with a bachelor of arts in linguistics, and is currently finishing her teaching degree at the Burnaby Mountain campus.

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