Don’t Mess With Tess

Rugby Sophomore Turning Heads At All Levels

Concordia women’s rugby phenom Alex Tessier was named 2014 RSEQ MVP and a CIS All-Canadian this past season. Photo Shaun Michaud

Rugby wasn’t Alex Tessier’s first sport. Nor was it her second. Many Concordia Stingers and fans who have watched the sophomore centre play would be surprised to know she only learned how to play in her second year at Dawson College, four years ago.

“A friend of mine invited me to a [rugby] practice, and since it was a contact sport I liked it right away,” said Tessier. “I might have been sore now and then after every game day, but it’s so worth it.”

Since taking up rugby full-time, Tessier has added to her trophy case. After being named the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec rookie of the year in 2013, she was recognized as conference MVP and all-star and as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport All-Canadian this past season. In addition, Tessier has represented Team
Canada in various Sevens tournaments.

Tessier’s rugby career might not have happened had she continued playing basketball, or even boys football.

The 21-year-old from Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, a small town an hour and a half away from Montreal, was into playing basketball before rugby. She played for three years while at Dawson. In high school, she even played as a wide receiver for the boys’ football team.

“I played to discover. I’m just a little crazy I guess and like challenges,” said Tessier. The atmosphere was good and I got the guys to respect me. At first they didn’t believe I could be a part of their team, but I proved them wrong,”

In her first year at Concordia, Tessier played the first half of the season for both women’s basketball and rugby team until she decided to commit full time to rugby.

“I realized it was way too much [committing to two teams],” said Tessier. “Being able to commit solely to rugby was good because it allowed me to achieve my personal goals,” Tessier added.

“I might have been sore now and then after every game day, but it’s so worth it.” -Alex Tessier

Judging by her busy schedule, rugby has proven to be a priority. She trains six days a week with three days devoted to strength and conditioning, two days only to skills and also another day to speed and agility. In between training, she fits in her studies towards a degree in Math & Statistics. But she does find at least one day to cool down.

“Sunday is thankfully a day of rest,” said Tessier. “Trying to have a social life isn’t easy. I have one, but I don’t go out too much.”

Since her arrival at Concordia, and her decision to play rugby full-time, she has helped her team to win back-to-back conference championship appearances. The Stingers were on the verge of a perfect season this past year before bowing out in the final to their rival the McGill Martlets, a game that still stings.

“It was a really fun season that (we) had,” said Tessier. “[It] sucks that we lost in the final. It hurt [the team] and me. I’m still not fully over it. I think we definitely learned from it. We’re still looking to bring a championship title home to Concordia. Having three years left is reassuring.”

Tessier is also looking to add to her accolades by playing for her country. Tessier recently came back from a Sevens tournament in Las Vegas with Team Canada’s East squad. She led her team to a third place finish.

In 2012, she traveled to play in the fifth world university championship edition of the FISU (International University Sports Federation) games in France.

This past summer, she was invited to the sixth edition of the FISU games in Brazil. She and her teammates took home the championship.

“It was definitely one of the highlights of my career so far, and a great experience because we won gold,” said Tessier. “I got to play with some [players] who are already on the national team. It was great rugby and a great time.”

Tessier will be traveling to Hong Kong on March 19 for more training with Team Canada. She will also make a pit stop in Victoria, British Columbia, the headquarters for the Sevens National Program, where she will attempt to crack the roster for Team Canada’s 2016 Summer Olympic rugby team.

“I don’t know whether 2016 is a realistic goal or not,” said Tessier. “Definitely possible, but 2020 is more plausible at this time.”

Tessier was once a basketball player and a football player. Now rugby has become her number one sport, and she is an Olympic hopeful. For the moment, and perhaps for the future, picking rugby is turning out to be a great decision.