This year, Halifax has two women, Emma Taylor of Halifax RFC and Olivia DeMerchant of Tars RFC, who are travelling to the 2022 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand which takes place from October 8, 2022 to November 12, 2022.
As local rugby players and working professionals, Emma and Olivia will have to take four months of unpaid leave from their full-time jobs and Halifax RFC is hoping to help keep their bills paid while they represent Canada at an international level.
We sat down with the star athletes to discuss their stories on how they got started in the sport, what representing Halifax means to them, and some of their favourite local spots in the city!
Read on to hear Emma and Olivia’s stories as well as details on the Halifax RFC Fundraiser on July 31 to help support them on this incredible journey.
How it started
Emma Taylor (pictured left) began playing rugby in high school here in Nova Scotia. She then moved on to play varsity rugby at St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) for 5 years, where she won 3 National Championships and 5 AUS Conference Titles, as well as many individual accolades. It was actually during this time at university where Emma and Oliva first met!
“I’m a New Brunswick farm girl that started playing rugby when I was in middle school”, says Oliva DeMerchant (pictured right). Like Emma, Olivia went on to play varsity rugby with StFX from 2009-2013 while studying Human Kinetics. During this time, she achieved 2 gold medals and a silver medal. If that’s not impressive enough, she has also been recently added to the Top 5 Most Capped Women in Canadian History with 47 caps! This upcoming Rugby World Cup will be her third World Cup to compete in.
What does representing Nova Scotia in the 2022 Rugby World Cup mean to you?
Favourite local spots around Halifax
Emma: I’m currently a HUGE fan of La Piazza Ristorante on Chebucto Road. They have some of the most authentic pizza in Halifax! They’re also located a block away from Finsbury Market which is another one of my favourite stops, especially for coffee and a sausage roll.
I’m also a beach girl! Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park is generally my go-to for a dip but you also can’t go wrong with Shubie Park in Dartmouth or Long Lake for a stroll (especially if you want to see some cute puppies).
Olivia: I am a huge cafe hopper and coffee snob. This causes me to be a frequent flier at Two If By Sea Cafe (they have the best croissants in the HRM!) as well as Café GoodLuck since I live on the dark side (aka Dartmouth). Craft breweries also harbour a place in my heart so spending time at Battery Park with a flight is always a good time.
What's your favourite part about playing rugby?
E: The people! I don’t care who tries to tell you otherwise; rugby people are the best. Whether we’re talking coaches, staff, parents, fans, social members, or athletes – rugby people are the best type of people on this planet. Rugby has introduced me to my girlfriend, my best friends, and my biggest support group. For all of this and more, I could never thank the sport enough.
O: Like Emma, one of my favourite parts about playing rugby is the people. Rugby people are just different. Most people involved in the sport would do anything for anyone and are always up for a good time. The rugby community is accepting of all people, genders, shapes, sizes, sexualities, and races. I always thought it was so cool to have a sport where you were not defined by your size and shape as a direct indication of your worth or success within the sport.
What advice do you have for aspiring athletes in Nova Scotia?
Halifax RFC Fundraiser
Halifax RFC will be hosting a fundraiser on July 31 to help raise money for Emma and Olivia to travel to the 2022 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand this fall. The event will consist of a silent auction followed by a two-course dinner catered by Cooking with Adam in collaboration with Chef Inspired Group of Restaurants. There will also be live music by local band, Haliwood, to cap off a fun event!
Halifax RFC is looking for donations of any type to expand their auction online for those who are not able to attend the event and wish to support Emma and Olivia on their accomplishments. Any donations will be credited.