At a glance, Bianca Farella is a regular Concordia student. In reality, though, she’s one of Canada’s rising rugby stars, and is a fierce competitor opponents could do without.
The Concordia Stingers women’s rugby team found a rookie sensation in Farella; the 20-year-old Côte St-Luc native joins Concordia after spending the last two and a half years honing her skills at Dawson College.
“Other schools like Acadia, St. Francis Xavier, and Laval asked me [to join their programs], but I like to stay close to home,” said Farella. “I’m happy I decided to stay.”
Farella, who is studying behavioural neuroscience, is the farthest thing from a rookie in the figurative sense — she led the entire country in tries with 12 in six games, including five in the Stingers’ home-opener, an 80-0 win ober the Sherbrooke Vert & Or. She’s also made her mark at the provincial and international levels, most notably the Team Canada Sevens squad and the Nations Cup team.
Farella’s rugby career began during her first year of high school at Miss Edgar’s and Miss Cramp’s School and she hasn’t looked back since.
“I started in grade seven because I wanted to try something new, and the only spring sports they had at my high school were badminton and tennis,” said Farella. “I’m more of a team sport kind of person, so I chose rugby and I stuck with it.”
It was only later on in her career that Farella started to realize that she was talented enough to compete with the best players locally, nationally and, eventually, internationally.
“I was told by my coaches that I was good enough to play at this level, and when I got there I realized it that I could,” she said. “I think it was when I went to the Nations Cup two summers ago that I realized that I had the talent for it.”
Farella’s rise up the national rugby ranks will continue this coming January when she’ll be moving to British Columbia to continue training with the Canada Sevens team. The country’s top 20 players convene for “centralization” where they will be able to train full-time in good conditions.
For now, Farella’s sights are set on the Stingers next — and most important — game of the season, which will go down on Saturday afternoon in Quebec City. The Stingers will take on the only team that was able to beat them during the regular season, the Laval Rouge et Or, with the Réseau de Sport Étudiant du Québec championship on the line.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the finals,” said Farella. “We knew Laval would be our biggest opponent, and we lost to them during the regular season (27-20).”
“We just need to focus, especially at practice. Sometimes not everyone’s in it, not everyone’s head is at practice. We need everything we have to beat them. They’re stronger and a little smarter. We just have to stay on.”
It’s clear she has appreciated by her teammates and coaches, as head coach Graeme McGravie sang the praises of his first-year centre after the team’s 12-3 semi-final win against McGill Friday night.
“She works so hard at training, and she works on the little things. Good athletes do that,” said McGravie. “There’s a lot of room for her to improve still, but the good thing about it is that she’s very humble and she knows that and she’s prepared to put the time in to work on that.”
Farella has set the bar high for herself going forward; she is gunning for a spot on Canada’s roster for the upcoming 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens, as well as the team Canada will be sending to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Suffice to say, if Farella continues to make an impact on every team she lines up for, her name will appear on both those rosters.
But for now, bring on Laval.