Mac’s Nelles, Turner earn CIS rugby tributes

Peterborough, Ont. – Rookie Marauder Cindy Nelles was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Rookie of the Year in women’s rugby on Thursday. Her McMaster teammate, Natasha Turner, was also honoured, being named a CIS All-Canadian for the second time in her career.

Nelles is the first McMaster player to claim the CIS rookie award.

The 5-foot-11 flanker had an immediate impact in her Marauders’ debut finishing second in Ontario University Athletics scoring with 88 points in five regular season games, while tying for third in tries (9) and placing second in converts (20). Her performance earned her a selection as a Russell division all-star and helped McMaster to a perfect record in conference play (5-0), a berth in the OUA final and the second CIS championship appearance in school history – and first since 1998.

The 18-year-old engineering student grew up with rugby and started in the touch game when she was about six years of age. She was a member of the Canadian U20 team that finished third at the Nations Cup tournament last summer in California.

“Cindy is a dominant player with ball in hand. She is also a force around the field making impact tackles, winning ball and excelling in the line out,” said McMaster head coach Cam Mitchell. “Her attitude and enthusiasm is contagious among her teammates, making her a team leader even as a first-year player.”

For the second straight season, fifth-year University of Guelph number 8 Jacey Murphy is the CIS’s player of the year in women’s rugby.

Other CIS major award winners included Laval’s Sarah Boudreau Turpin of Quebec City, who received the Student-Athlete Community Service award; and Sherbrooke’s Mélissa Laberge, who merited the coach of the year award.

The 2011 CIS championship, hosted for the second consecutive year by Trent University, gets under way Thursday and culminates Sunday with the gold-medal final at 2 p.m. All nine games from the tournament will be webcast by SSN Canada.

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