WWU student and women's rugby player Sydney Copeland heads to Dubai this week to play on the U.S. Olympic developmental team, the Falcons

Sydney Copeland, far left, practices with her WWU women's rugby teammates at Harrington Field. She is heading to Dubai this week to play in an international tournament for the Falcons, USA Rugby's Olympic developmental squad.

WWU women’s rugby player Sydney Copeland is headed to Dubai on Dec. 1 to compete in the Dubai Sevens rugby tournament as a member of USA Rugby's Olympic developmental team, the Falcons.  

Copeland, a Kinesiology major, said that when she started playing rugby after coming to Western she had never anticipated reaching this level in the sport. Securing this spot has turned her dreams into a reality, and she has seen the dedicated training she has invested now paying off.  

“It all started when I got invited to train down at the Chula Vista national team training camp last June, where all the rugby players train for the national team. I could not believe I had been invited and I really trained hard in this camp to potentially try and earn a spot on the team. Six months later here I am about to travel to Dubai to compete with some of the best women rugby players in the nation. It is a dream come true,” Copeland says.  

WWU Kinesiology student Sydney Copeland hoists the trophy for the U.S. Under 23 All-Star championship game.

After receiving an invitation to the Chula Vista camp, Copeland said she truly immersed herself in the training regimen of a professional athlete. She still could not wrap her head around the fact that this was her reality, she said.  

“When I arrived at  Chula Vista I learned so much, and I really got to experience Olympic level women’s rugby. Just being there made me realize I really wanted this, and I was determined to get invited back,” Copeland said. 

After the camp, Copeland had a one-on-one with the coach and they liked what they saw, specifically her kicking — and they invited her back to be a part of the academy to train in October for the Olympic developmental team.  

“Once I knew that I was going back to the camp in October I started training right away. They run this fitness test called ‘The Bronco Test,' and their standard time to get selected for the team is to finish it in under 5 minutes, 30 seconds... and after all the training I did, I was able to complete it in 5 minutes, 22 seconds. I was so proud of myself,” Copeland said. 

The main purpose of the camp in October was for scrimmaging against older, more experienced women rugby players, some of them being Olympians. Copeland said she could not believe she was about to match up against players such as Alev Kelter, Kris Thomas, and Jaz Gray, women she has idolized. 

“I was screaming for joy on the inside,” Copeland said.  

Copeland said that being on Western’s team has shaped her into the rugby player she is today. She said the women's rugby team at WWU is built on community, respect, and hard work. They won their league last year and this has provided opportunities for Copeland to play on regional all-star teams that got her more exposure as a player. 

“Western rugby is a club sport, so our coaches are here on their own time, and they are volunteering. They do not get paid to coach us, which just really shows you their care and dedication to the sport, and to the team,” Copeland said. 

All the recruitment for the women's rugby team is done at the Info Fair at the beginning of the school year in Red Square, although new players are always welcome throughout the school year. The club draws in people who are just looking to be a part of something that has a sense of community.  

“I am so grateful for my team here at Western and the players I am surrounded by. Being on this team has provided me with the practice and games to prepare me for my training camps. It has taught me how to be a leader and an all-around solid rugby player,” Copeland said.  

Copeland said her main goal is to make professional rugby a career. She hopes after competing in Dubai this December she can continue to work towards more opportunities to play internationally and to potentially represent her country at the highest level.  

To find out more information about this event visit the tournament page at Emirates Dubai 7s  and if interested in learning more about the Western Women's Rugby team, visit the WWU Women's Rugby website.