Moyse continues her remarkable sporting story(IRB.COM) Friday 28 June 2013
Heather Moyse made a surprise return to the Canadian set up earlier this year, having not played any rugby since Women's Rugby World Cup 2010 – the same year she won a bobsled gold for her country in the Winter Olympics.
Not only has she had to overcome a serious ankle injury sustained in 2010, she’s also currently recovering from hip surgery last November.
She starts from the very beginning on how her return to rugby came about.
“I wouldn’t say I have had it in my head to come back and try and make this World Cup. But I am the kind of person who never closes the door on anything and I had never actually retired. I badly damaged my ankle in London – there were fractures as well as cartilage and ligament damage – so to be honest I wasn’t sure if I would ever play rugby at any level again.
“Initially I was thinking that if I could recover enough to run in a straight line then maybe I could get back to bobsled, but in terms of rugby, where you need to change direction all the time it was going to be hard. But on the other hand I thought, it is just an ankle – if the cartilage recovered then I could tape it all up and that’s sort of what I am doing!”
Recovering from the angle damage was a slow process for Moyse, but typical of the competitor she is, she couldn’t sit idly by while there was an opportunity in another sport and in 2012 she represented Canada in her third international sport when she competed in the Pan-American Cycling Championships in Argentina.
Despite having only taken cycling up in 2011 and never having raced on an outdoor track, Moyse finished fourth.
A return to rugby
It was a remarkable achievement and it sounds like fate that she then bumped into Canada head coach John Tait and the seed was planted to make a return to rugby.
“Last August I was commentating for a NACRA tournament in Canada and John and I were talking after it was over and he mentioned coming back. I started laughing as I assumed he was joking. But I went away and I started to think about it afterwards. I then started to talk to the bobsled and rugby federations about how I could do it. I just knew I didn’t want to do one or the other - I wanted to do both.”
Key for Moyse was a return to running, and she admits she found it very difficult.
“Starting to train again was really daunting. I mean I really hadn’t run at all in two years. It was a whole body thing – my joints weren’t used to me running either because I had been on the bike, so it was tough and just was a really big change for me. When I started back training I started to get some pain in my hip so I had to have surgery for that in November. Where I am now, I have to maintain and look after my ankle but also my hip. I am using up a lot of medical tape that’s for sure.”
Moyse met up with her rugby teammates in March and played in her first tournament at the IRB Women's Sevens World Series final in Amsterdam last month, where Canada reached the final.
“It was huge for me. Up to that point I hadn’t even done a full session with the girls and I found it tough. When you haven’t run for over two years, you cannot build up your cardio fitness and in Sevens it’s all about that. Playing a few minutes wasn’t too bad but I was playing conservatively because I didn’t trust my own cardio fitness. I have been able to catch up a bit now thankfully though another month would be nice! I am definitely further along and as long as I can keep myself taped up, hopefully I will come through it!”
Moyse had another great opportunity this week to test herself in a high tempo training session against Spain.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever done that against another team. It was good and it allows you to see what you need to work on together.”
As to whether her return to rugby is permanent she says: “To be honest your guess is as good as mine. I leave every door open so let’s see how my body is after the weekend!”
With another Women’s Rugby World Cup to come next year in Paris, you wouldn’t bet against Moyse making a few more appearances yet. She’s that kind of athlete.