ZONE 6: Rugby star Maggie Banks carries family legacy to BC Games

Shawnigan Lake student and Coquitlam native following her parents to the national program

Even though both of her parents not only played for, but captained national rugby teams, Maggie Banks insists she found the sport on her own.

“I grew up playing every other sport around,” Banks said on Friday afternoon, shortly after her Vancouver Island-Central Coast team defeated Kootenays in a girls rugby sevens match at the 2018 BC Summer Games. “There were always rugby balls around, but there was never any pressure from my parents. I found it myself, with a little encouragement.”

Banks’s dad, Ryan, played in the back row for Canada at the 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cups. And her mom, Heather Wilson, represented Canada in the 1994 and 1998 Rugby World Cups.

Although she was around the sport constantly, she didn’t start playing until she was 13.

“I practically grew up at the rugby pitch,” Banks noted in her BC Summer Games athlete bio, “and cheered on the sidelines at the 2003 World Cup in Australia.”

While Banks’ hometown is Coquitlam, she spends almost the entire year on Vancouver Island where she attends rugby powerhouse Shawnigan Lake School, while also training with the national program, so it made more sense for her to try out for the Vancouver Island-Central Coast team instead of the squad representing the Fraser River zone, which includes Coquitlam.

“It was convenient. I’m here, obviously, so it’s easier for me to train with this team.”

Maggie Banks delivers a pass to one of her Vancouver Island-Central Coast teammates during a match against the Kootenays at the 2018 BC Summer Games girls rugby sevens tournament on Friday, July 20. (Kevin Rothbauer/Black Press)

Shawnigan Lake School is the site of the BC Summer Games rugby tournament, so Banks is at home playing on the familiar pitch. She’s also working with familiar faces as four of her high school teammates are on the Island team — led by Shawnigan coaches Shannon Atkins, Laura Russell and Dani Robb. There is something unusual, however, about being on the Shawnigan pitch with players who might ordinarily be rivals.

“It’s a little weird, playing here with other people I don’t usually play with,” Banks admitted.

Family and friends from both the Shawnigan Lake area and her hometown of Coquitlam gathered at the fields on the weekend to cheer for Banks and her teammates.

“It’s always nice to have them around for support,” she said.

The 2018 BC Summer Games girls rugby sevens tournament continues at Shawnigan Lake School through Sunday morning, with the final at 10:30 a.m.

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