Olympian left her mark in short stint at Shawnigan

Hannah Darling didn’t play a lot of rugby for Shawnigan Lake School, but she definitely left an impression.

Hannah Darling didn’t play a lot of rugby for Shawnigan Lake School on her quick rise to the Canadian national sevens team and the 2016 Olympics, but she definitely left an impression.

Originally from Warsaw, Ont., Darling spent her Grade 12 year at Shawnigan in 2013-14 to help boost her rugby skills. Unfortunately, she broke her hand in the semifinal of the provincial sevens tournament, and was out for the season, including the provincial XV championship.

Mark Hall, the head coach of Shawnigan’s girls team, was impressed with what he saw in the short time.

“I’m quite sure, had she been able to play, we would have won both provincial championships,” Hall said recently. “She was a very strong player with great speed and she was a devastating tackler. She actually hadn’t played that much but she was a physical specimen for a high school player. It is no surprise that she has made the Olympic team in Rio, and I think we’ll be hearing much more of her in the years to come.”

Darling received her first cap with the national sevens team at the Hong Kong International Sevens in 2014, was captain of the Canadian team that finished second at Youth Olympic Games in 2014, and helped Canada win the gold medal at the Pan Am Games in Toronto in 2015. She also has five career tries in the Women’s Sevens World Series.

Among Darling’s teammates in Rio is Kelly Russell, the sister of Shawnigan assistant coach and national XV captain Laura Russell, who also plays for the Cowichan Rugby Football Club.

Canada’s first Olympic game is set for Saturday against Japan.