Jaxon Baker’s trip to France was everything she hoped it would be.
Not only did she get to see the Eiffel Tower and other significant attractions, but she also won gold in rugby sevens with the Celtic Barbarians at the Paris World Games.
The Cowichan Secondary student joined the touring side for the July 6-13 tournament, where the team came together quickly and emerged as the best entry.
“The team was great,” Baker said. “I made friends with all the girls. We played really well together.”
The Barbarians included players from all over Canada, as well as from Florida and Texas, a few of which Baker knew from previous teams she has played for. They trained at the French National Rugby Centre in Marcoussis, south of Paris, for three days prior to the Games, and won a tournament in Marcoussis they entered just for some extra playing time.
There were six teams in U15 girls division at the Paris World Games, one of which had to bring in some boys to bolster the lineup due to injuries. Although Baker wasn’t intimidated — “not at all” — playing against boys, it was unusual.
“It was very different,” Baker admitted. “They play way less structured than we do.”
The Barbarians ended up facing that same team in the tournament final, but the opponents had to forfeit.
Baker also subbed in for the Celtic Barbarians U18 team for one game, which she called the highlight of the trip.
“I feel actually like I did better in that game than in my own age group,” she said. “I knew more girls on the U18 team going in than on the U15 team.”
Baker thanked her many sponsors that helped make the trip possible, including the Lion Rampant Pub, the Cowichan Piggies, Duncan Hyundai, Red Arrow Brewery, The Loft, Wall Street Clothing, Beverly Corners Liquor, Urban Valley Tees, Save-On-Foods, Sport Chek, Dave Campbell Golf Academy, Genoa Bay Marina, and everyone who came to her beer and burger fundraiser at the Lion Rampant.