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Canada honour former national players

Six former National Senior Women’s Team athletes were recognised for their first caps at halftime of the final match of the 2009 Nations Cup.

The rain wreacked havoc on the actual ceremony, but the honoraries laughed off the weather in good spirits.

Araba Chintoh, Tamara Curtis, Jocelyn Cooke (Wombwell), Helen Russell (Kaira), Heather Hunt, and Nat Bendavid were all presented their caps by former Canada Senior Womens Team captain and current Rugby Canada Director Stephanie White and former Rugby Canada Player Representative and Director and current Canadian Rugby Foundation Director Colette McAuley.

Araba Roo Chintoh received her first cap on August 6, 2000 in a 17-10 win over the USA in Saranac Lake, New York. Following the game, Roo wooed the crowd with her trademark Banana Dance. As a lock, Chintoh was a line-out specialist with a fierce and growling tackle, and was always a huge presence on the field. She is still a force with the Toronto Scottish, the Newcastle University Team and the Ontario Provincial Team.

Chintoh has a PhD and is currently studying medicine in Newcastle, England and during Post Doc work at the University of Toronto during the summer. Chintoh was member of the Canada Senior Women's Team from 2000 to 2004 and earned 16 caps. She attended a Canada Cup, two Churchill cups, a Wales tour, an England tour and the 2002 World Cup.

Tamara Curtis earned her first cap on June 20, 2003 in a 17-13 win over the USA at the inaugural Churchill Cup at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver. A gritty scrum-half, Curtis was always keeping the opposition on its toes with her physicality and fearlessness. Playing with Western, Curtis was named All-Canadian in 1998, the first year rugby was a CIAU sport.

She earned 10 caps during her career on the National Team between 2001 and 2005, which included a Wales tour, two Churchill Cups and a Canada Cup. A native of Barrie, she now lives in Toronto with her partner, Jeff, and their two children, Mason and Finn. She was holding Finn during the presentation and let Finn wear the cap for the photos.

Jocelyn Cooke (Wombwell) has one hard-earned cap for Canada, which she received on November 14, 2004 against England during Canadas fall tour. An agile prop, Cooke was known for her great ball handling and always being up with the play. She was a constant on the Canada U23 team for a number of years and was sidelined from the Canada Barbarians vs. Scotland game in 2005 due to an injury sustained in training. Cooke played for the University Guelph Gryphons and earned a CIS All Canadian in 2002 and 2003 and was also named Player of the Year in 2003. She is currently the assistant coach for the Guelph Gryphons. Cooke is a teacher and she and her husband, Paul, are expecting a baby in January.

Helen Russell (Kaira) received her first cap on April 6, 1991 New Zealand at the inaugural Women's World Cup in Wales. At hooker, Russells skill and intensity were a dominating force on the field. The opposition dreaded her crushing tackles and powerful rucking. Russell was a member of the Senior Womens National team from 1990-1996 and earned 10 caps.

She represented Canada at the 1991 and 1994 World Cups and was captain of the squad at the 1996 Canada Cup in Edmonton. She played her club rugby with the Ajax Wanderers. Russell was such a strong player that she played for the Mens University of Guelph Rugby team in 1985. Russell is currently the Director of Customized Consulting at Pangaea Consultants Inc. and is highly successful businesswoman. She is here today with her husband and two children.

Heather Hunt earned her first cap against France on September 11, 1996 at the Canada Cup in Edmonton. A naturally talented athlete, Hunt was an exceptionally strong runner with a devastating straight arm. An unstoppable force in the midfield, Hunt was a centre who created gaps instead of finding them. She earned 13 caps during her stint with the National Team between 1996 and 2000, which includes appearances at two Canada Cups, the Tri-Nations Tournament in New Zealand and the 1998 World Cup. Hunt is still wreaking havoc for the Toronto Scottish and she also contributes to the game from behind the referees whistle. She lives with her partner, Mingo, in Toronto.

Nathalie Bendavid earned her first cap on November 4, 2007 against Scotland at hooker. She has 2 caps for the Senior Womens National Team. Bendavid came through the development program with Rugby Canada and played for the U23 team in 2002 and 2003. Bendavids natural passing skills and speed to the breakdown made her an obvious choice for the National Womens 7s Rugby team that travelled to the first ever Womens World Cup of 7s in Dubai this year. Bendavid represented Canada in tournaments in San Diego, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Bahamas and Dubai. She is a University of Guelph Alumni and was named a CIS All Canadian as a co-captain of the OUA champions. She plays for the Aurora Barbarians and the National Womens League championship team, Ontario.

Former player Colette McAuley was also recognized for a new award named in her honour. The Colette McAuley Award will be given annually to an NWL athlete who embodies the true spirit of giving back to womens rugby as voted on by their peers.

McAuley played for Canada for 10 years and was an excellent ambassador on the field, but since retiring she has become one of the countrys strongest advocates for womens rugby.

BC player Marlene Donaldson was presented with the award at this years NWL finals in St. Albert, AB.