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Former Sarnia Saints rugby star shining on world stage

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia’s Julia Greenshields and the rest of Canada’s rugby sevens women are one step closer to Olympic qualification.

And no one is watching their rise in the world rankings with more enthusiasm than her former Sarnia Saints clubmates as they prepare for their 10th annual Playing it Forward event.

In a nail-biting final, Canada edged England 7-5 to secure tournament gold in the latest stop of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, held April 20-21 in Japan.

England led 5-0 through most of the match but Canada rallied and emerged triumphant on the last play.

“It was such a great final… I’m almost speechless about it,” said Greenshields, who has scored nine tries and tallied 47 points this season.

The St. Clair Secondary grad and Saints alumnus plays rugby sevens, the hot new version of the sport in which teams of seven players compete on a regulation field over two, seven-minute halves.

Canada won all five of its matches at the tournament and now stands second on the Series. Top four teams qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“It’s a big deal,” said Greenshields, who spoke by phone from British Columbia.

The next Series stop is “back on home turf” at Langford, B.C. on May 11-12, she said.

The win brought more congratulatory text messages from Sarnia Saints players and coaches, she said.

Although based on the west coast, Greenshields stays in touch with her home club and helps out with coaching and mentorship when back in town.

In fact, she credits her current success on the world stage to her early development with the Saints.

“They gave me a lot of support and that’s why I give back,” she said. “I really value everything they did for me.”

The Sarnia Saints rugby football club’s 10th annual Playing it Forward fundraiser is scheduled for June 13 and 15. It includes a dinner and silent auction as well as a day of Saints Rugby action.

This year’s charitable recipient is the Inn of the Good Shepherd.

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