Kristine Lovatt’s rugby journey continues to find success

Over the last decade and a half, Kristine Lovatt has played for 12 rugby teams across Canada and travelling to three continents to referee games all the way up to Olympic qualifiers. An impressive feat for anyone, but especially for someone who had “literally never even heard the word rugby” before she started attending Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in 2006.

Both Lovatt and the game have grown a lot since she started playing. She had always been sporty, and the school encouraged one sport a season. When the time came to choose her spring sport in 2007, it was an easy decision.

“My options were softball and rugby,” Lovatt said. “And despite being relatively athletic, I become the most uncoordinated individual when you put any sort of object in my hand to play a sport.”

Though the highest levels of the sport were in her future, a relaxed and comfortable environment is what helped develop her love for the game. The sport season at Athol Murray was often very intense, but the start of rugby in the spring was just the opposite. She calls the difference between seasons “that feeling of taking your jeans off at the end of the day.”

The environment was nurtured by her coach, Darren Beaulac. His focus on making the game fun was formative for Lovatt. “It’s pretty hard to imagine I would have stuck around in the sport in those early days had he not been creating that kind of environment,” she said.

Another major advantage for Lovatt was that she got involved in the sport as it really began to expand for women in Saskatchewan. When she was just 15, she got to play on Team Saskatchewan’s U19 team—simply because there weren’t that many girls who wanted to play. Many of her school teammates were playing for the provincial team, so there was plenty of encouragement to try out for a spot.

“I tried out for Team Sask because I could,” Lovatt said. “Most years if you showed up you could play; there were only a couple cuts. It kind of fell into my lap and I was playing a whole heck of a lot more than I thought I would be.”

She stuck with rugby—at school and at the provincial level—through high school and when she moved out to Nova Scotia to attend Acadia University. But it was the chance to make a few extra bucks (AKA: beer money) in grad school that brought her a new challenge. She took her first refereeing course through Saskatchewan Rugby in March 2017 and officiated for the first time at a boys’ high school game that spring.

She quickly learned that refereeing was an even better use of her skills and personality than playing had been. “My overall personality has fit better in this context of the game,” she said. Her years as a player helped her build a broad knowledge of the game and an understanding of the rules in context, and she says her new role is a natural fit for her organizational skills and gut feelings.

The shift from player to referee might have been unexpected, but it took off quickly for Lovatt. Within a few months of starting to officiate, she was traveling to other provinces and meeting “some of the best referees in the country.” Not only did she enjoy meeting new people, but those connections also helped her leap to the next level as a ref—by the fall of 2017, she was refereeing university-level games.

“Within six months I had already achieved what it took me 12 years to achieve as a player,” she said.

Then in 2022, things really took off—which Lovatt certainly wasn’t expecting after the pandemic had her questioning how involved she would be in rugby going forward. That year, she got the opportunity to referee the Canada Games, which led to travelling to Mexico that fall to ref at the RAN Super Sevens. Since then, she has refereed games around the world:

  • South Africa, April 2023: World Rugby Development Academy
  • Ottawa, July 2023: World Rugby Pacific Four Series
  • Langford, August 2023: Olympic Qualifiers
  • Chile, October 2023: Pan American Games

Next on the schedule is the World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series in Uruguay in March 2024, and though every new experience is exciting, it’s the people and the experience that keep stoking the fire for Lovatt.

“Rugby gave me a place in the world,” she said. “Refereeing in particular is what has…taught me that if you do things because you love them, because they matter to you and you value them, that’s going to lead to an authentic and meaningful life.”

She credits the game with helping her tolerate failure, build a strong work ethic, and balance responsibility, but most importantly to be part of a supportive community—on and off the field. After all her experiences, she wants to help others who could find their place on the field, too.

“I just want to stay involved with the game for as long as I can,” she said. “…I want to play my part in helping other people fall in love with the game.”


Job Opportunity – Sport for All Sessional Coaches

Rugby is seeking energetic, organized and collaborative people to join their team on behalf of Rugby Canada who is supporting the financial means for this position through Sport Canada.

The position requires great organization, communication and problem solving skills. Prior experience organizing sporting programs is ideal.

Reporting to Saskatchewan Rugby’s Development Officer, the position is a Part Time (9 hours per week) seasonal position running from March 2024 to July 2024. The YDO/Sessional Coach  will be expected to work approximately 10 hours per week although workload may vary.


Sport for All – Sessional Coaches Ad

Sask Stars Shine in Pan-Am Games

Congratulations to Saskatchewan Rugby’s very own Kristine Lovatt and Carissa Norsten who represented Canada and Saskatchewan at the 2023 Pan-American Games in Santiago Chile.


Carissa Norsten was named to the Canadian National Women’s 7s team. The team opened the tournament with two impressive wins: 41-0 vs Chile and 69-0 vs Mexico with Norsten scoring 1 try in the second game. The squad booked their spot in the semi-finals with a 29-21 win vs Brazil with Norsten once again going over for her 2nd try of the day. On day 2, the team confidently beat Colombia 45-14 in the semi-finals with Norsten scoring once again. In the Gold medal match, Canada faced their rivals the United States and after a hard fought 14 minutes fell just short of the Gold medal with a score of 19-12. The young team finished the tournament with a Silver Medal!

Kristine Lovatt saw much of the pitch as a referee in the following games:

Paraguay vs Colombia

USA vs Paraguay

Paraguay vs Chile

Brazil vs Colombia (Bronze Medal Match)

David Jukes | 2023 Sports Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Moose Jaw’s David Jukes who has been inducted into the Moose Jaw and Districts Sports Hall of Fame for 2023.

From 1970 to 2010, Jukes established himself as a premier rugby player, coach, and administrator. David was named to the Saskatchewan provincial team from 1974-1987 and in 1980 he was named to the National team as an alternate.

Administratively, Jukes has spent countless hours supporting the community rugby program at the Barry MacDonald Rugby Field. He has been an executive member of both the Moose Jaw and Saskatchewan Rugby boards and has an award named after him: The Dave Jukes Award, for most outstanding junior forward.

Please join us in congratulating David Jukes on this great accomplishment.

Premier Rugby 7s x Sask Rugby

The 2023 Premier Rugby 7s expanded 2023 season saw multiple Saskatchewan Rugby stars competing for various franchise teams across the United States.

Spencer Boldt; Notre Dame Alumna and Sask Rugby star signed with the Experts franchise for her third season. The Experts started their season off strong winning the first stop of the series in San Jose on July 16, and clinching their ticket to the Championship tournament in DC.

Carissa Norsten & Christina Norsten; this Sask rugby sister duo have been making waves both in the US and Canada over the past few years. Carissa signed with the Loonies franchise for her second season and Christina signed for her very first season. The Loonies coached by Sask Rugby coaching legends Brett Kannenberg and Robin MacDowell had a fantastic season, winning at home in Minnesota on the first stop of the series, then clinching their championship tournament spot in San Jose and finally becoming the 2023 Premier Rugby 7s Champions for the second season in a row on August 7th.

Lucas Scheck; the Sask Rugby star resigned with the Headliners franchise for his second season. The team fell short of a championship tournament spot, battling against tough competition from the get go.

We are incredibly proud of these Saskatchewan athletes and their continued success. The future is bright!

Saskatchewan Rugby on the World Stage

This past summer International rugby competitions were back in full swing seeing Canadian rugby athletes shine on the world stage.

The Pacific Four Series took place at Ottawa’s TD Place July 8 & 14, 2023. Saskatchewan products Gabrielle Senft; former Leboldus Sun, Notre Dame Hound and Provincial Team Player, Emily Tuttosi; former Kirin player, and Alayna Scramstad; former Lashburn Lucky player were selected to the Canadian National Women’s Team pre-tournament camp with Senft and Tuttosi competiting in the doubleheader competition falling to New Zealand 52-21 on July 8th and beating Australia 45-7 on July 14.


The 7th Commonwealth Youth Games took place on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago August 4-11, 2023. Saskatchewan Rugby’s very own Elle Douglas was selected for Canada’s U18 women’s 7s team who opened the tournament with a 21-7 win over Wales and a 0-33 loss to Australia. The team then beat Fiji 19-17 and Trinidad and Tobago 59-0, facing Kenya in the semi-finals securing their place in the gold medal match where they lost to Australia and finished the tournament with a silver medal.


The Canadian Men’s National XVs team travelled to Tonga to play two test matches as they continue to build towards their 2025 Qualification matches for the 2027 Rugby World Cup. Saskatchewan Rugby’s Matt Klimchuk; former provincial team player, Howler, and Regina Rogue star was named to the team and faced Tonga August 10 & 15 unfortunately falling short on both occasions.

Junior Rugby in Sask

After losing out on 2 seasons of summer rugby programs due to COVID-19, Saskatchewan’s junior rugby players have been busy catching up this summer. A number of junior programs and events brought our players back to the pitch, including training with local senior clubs. 

These activities wouldn’t have been possible without the support of community coaches, managers, organisers, and players, and the Sask Rugby High Performance Committee who continue to drive rugby’s progress in the province. Your sport thanks you. 


Organised by a group of women’s coaches, junior girls will be taking the pitch in Saskatoon on August 21 and Regina on August 28 for some North vs South 15s exhibition games. Each day will consist of 2 games with 20 minute halves, and team lunch in between. Good luck ladies!


Sask Rugby is hosting a U18 Boys Canada camp August 21-22 in Regina for invited athletes. Out of those selected a number of Saskatchewan athletes will have their shot at a tour with the national team in December 2021 to January 2022. Good luck boys!


Initially planned for 2021, the  Niagara Canada Summer Games were rescheduled for August of 2022 due to COVID-19. Team Sask started its training with coaches Kayla Mack-Thiel and Gillian Allen in June of 2021. Any U18 girls interested in participating can learn more here:


Organised by the Sask Rugby High Performance Committee, Sask’s first ever Rugby ID Combine took place in July 2021, open to all athletes interested in developing in sport. The all-day session in Regina brought in over 30 athletes and tons of talent.


Regina Minor Rugby

Formerly Regina Mini Rugby, Regina Minor has expanded in recent years to include players ages 15 to 18. After getting cancelled in 2020, the program returned in full force August of 2021 and plans to run until October. One of the longest standing community rugby programs in Saskatchewan, RMR is an excellent option for juniors looking to get into the game or develop in a fun environment.

RMR still delivers Minis for its 4-14 ages and the kids love it.

MacDowell Prairie Academy

The Prairie Academy was one of the only training opportunities for juniors during 2020, running sessions whenever possible. The program restarted in May of 2021 and is slated to return for fall sessions in September.  The academy focuses on developing high performance rugby athletes but is open to all ages and skill levels.

NSRU Minor Rugby

Formerly Saskatoon Mini Rugby, the NSRU came together to deliver minor and junior rugby sessions in Saskatoon at the beginning of June 2021. The junior side of the program brought a number of North juniors back to the field and helped in reconnecting them with senior clubs.

New Air Quality Guidelines

With the recent forest fires and the worsening air quality there is an elevated risk when playing sports. With this increased risk Sask Rugby is implementing a new policy for the health and safety of the members of the community. This policy uses the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) to help make the decision to […]

Saskatchewan 2020/2021 Gilbert Champions

8 Saskatchewan athletes, Gabrielle Senft (Regina, SK), Elle Douglas (Saskatoon, SK), Molly Watson (Avonlea, SK), Laney Aikens (Briercrest, SK), Brett Kannenberg (Lumsden, SK), Madisyn Pluhowy (Regina, SK), Matt Klimchuk (Regina, SK) and Owen Watson (Avonlea, SK), were named Gilbert Champions in the 2020 Gilbert Champions program. These players received a Gilbert training kit and the opportunity to promote and mentor the growth of rugby in their communities with Gilbert Canada. Senft and Douglas will also be working with and mentored by the incredible team of 2020 ELITE GILBERT CHAMPIONS: Kayla Moleschi, Josiah Morra, Britt Benn and Jake Thiel – ALL members of the Rugby Canada team, and passionate advocates for how rugby has provided incredible life experiences both on and off the pitch.

Gabrielle Senft started as a high school player in Saskatchewan and quickly gained a reputation in the sport for her athleticism, talent, and tenacity. Senft has now played both 15s and 7s across Canada in British Columbia and across the world in Australia and England, all while being a force to be reckoned with on the Canadian National Team. In her Gilbert Canada profile, Senft reflects on the value of community in rugby: “Most importantly the community that rugby holds is something that has really drawn me to continue playing rugby all over the world”. 

Elle Douglas started as a mini player in the Saskatoon Mini Rugby program and has since played for the Saskatoon Sirens, North Sask Wolverines, and Team Saskatchewan. You might recognize her from Sask Rugby’s 2016 #ChampionHer video. In her Gilbert Canada profile, Douglas recalls this experience as an inspiration for her rugby dreams: “A big role model for me would be Kayla Mack. I first met her when I was 11 years old and I was doing an interview for women’s rugby. I remember being super excited to meet somebody who had played for Canada and was from Saskatchewan. She gave me a signed Canada warmup jersey from her playing days. I was so starstruck! Kayla really inspired me to pursue my dreams!”. 

Molly Watson started as a mini rugby player with Regina Minor Rugby, and has been apart of the Macdowell Rugby Academy and has continued with these programs. In her Gilbert Canada profile Watson expresses her interest in the sport: “I like all the different skills you can do and learn! I like that it can be challenging and I can be competitive when I play”.

Laney Aikens is currently playing rugby for the national senior women’s 7s team and has helped coach at the Macdowell Rugby Academy in Saskatchewan. In her Gilbert Canada profile Aikens explains why she loves rugby: “I love the aggression that comes along with rugby. Ever since I was a small child I have always had so much grit and now that there is a sport where I can use my aggressiveness as an asset, it makes for more success”.

Brett Kannenberg is the head coach at Macdowell Rugby Academy in Saskatchewan. His Gilbert Canada profile explains that he enjoys the sport of rugby because “[e]veryone has a place… [t]he inclusiveness of the sport makes it possible to be invilved at all age levels, abilities, desired competition, not to mention it is global”.

Madisyn Pluhowy started playing on the provincial team in 2019 and is currently playing senior rugby with the Lady Condors in Regina. In her  Gilbert Canada profile Madisyn expresses her love for the sport and the community: “I love the community that surrounds rugby as a whole. After losing a great deal of weight one of my friends mentioned rugby and I’ve never looked back. Rugby has revealed true friends that have supported me in the continuation of my weight loss journey and overall in life. I’m forever thankful for being included and excepted in such a tight nit community that rugby brought to me”.

Matt Klimchuk started playing rugby in high school and has since played senior rugby and in the U.S.. In his Gilbert Canada profile Klimchuk shows his admiration for the sport: “I love not only the immense culture behind the sport, but also the dynamics of the game. To me, a rugby player is not only a prime example of a incredible athlete, but also a person of strong character and work ethic. To me rugby Is the ultimate sport”.

Owen Watson has played both high school and provincial rugby, with a bright future ahead of him. In his Gilbert Canada profile Watson shared why he loves rugby: “I love the fact that Rugby has provided me with opportunities to travel to Florida to play in the Tropical 7s last April and play in the LA 7s tournament this past March. I love how much fun I have playing and learning new skills and meeting new people. I love the fact that I am not a very big kid but there is a position for me to play in a sport that I love!”.

2021 Season Opener

Even though the 2021 season had a late start the enthusiasm for the game has only grown. The season opener saw a return to rugby for the Regina Rugby Union, while the North Saskatchewan Rugby Union was forced to delay their season due to poor weather conditions. This year the excitement of the games and the enthusiasm for the sport expanded further than the players on the pitch. The RRU saw the community come together as they welcomed rugby back to Saskatchewan. With many of the players staying behind after the games to welcome back and thank their opposition, while spectators congratulated the teams for their triumphant return.

Opening the season on Thursday, July 15, was an exciting 15’s game presented by Rage and the Lady Condors as both teams provided an excellent show of the game’s intensity. Rage managed to claim the season’s first win, with a final score of 63-14. Friday night brought the same intensity as the Highlanders faced off against the Grads as the Rogues faced the Condors. The excitement of the new season only grew as the games came to a close as the Highlanders won over the Grads with a score of 34-19, while the Rogues secured their victory over the Condors with a final score of 45-8. The first week of games ending with excitement and anticipation for the weeks to come.