Cripps headed for BC Rugby Hall of Fame

Cripps headed for BC Rugby Hall of Fame

Memories from her early playing career in Williams Lake will be enshrined alongside the recognition

When Leslie Cripps is inducted into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame, memories from her early playing career in Williams Lake will be enshrined alongside the recognition.

Cripps, who now lives in London, England, spent her formative years in the lakecity, and was announced as one of the 2019 inductees into the BC Rugby Hall of Fame earlier this month. She’ll join six others at the induction ceremony in the Lower Mainland on Jan. 12.

Cripps was introduced to the sport by her former high school coaches Mike Levitt and Lorne Sherlock, but her foray into international play didn’t begin until after she graduated from secondary education.

“I actually didn’t play any rugby in high school,” Cripps told the Tribune. “Mike was my junior high basketball coach and PE teacher and when I was in my first year of college in Williams Lake they were starting a women’s team.”

That was in 1996, Cripps was 18 at the time, and decided to play a summer with the Williams Lake Hustlers women’s rugby team.

“Then that summer I was going to Victoria to finish my last three years of university and Sandy Lumly, who was a girl at UVIC from Williams Lake, said I should play.”

Read more: Walters, X-Women, win national women’s rugby championship

Cripps suited up with the Valkyries women’s team that season, and for the next two to follow. The rest progressed from there.

She went on to appear at three World Cups (2002, 2006 and 2010), where she captained Team Canada in 2010 in London, England.

“I had no thoughts of playing for Canada originally,” she said, noting her coaches at UVIC and Team BC suggested the idea of trying out for Canada.

“I just remember I was finishing university and was going back to Williams Lake and we were in line for the ferry and one of my coaches, Spencer Robinson, he just said: ‘No. You have to keep playing.’ And that was the first time I ever had a thought I should try for bigger and better.”

Cripps then tried out for the Canadian under-23 team in the summer of 2000 where Robinson was the coach.

She played for Canada against the U.S. that summer and, the following year, claiming her first cap with the Canadian team to take on the U.S. in Ontario.

Back in Williams Lake, Cripps has fond memories of playing the sport.

“They [Levitt and Sherlock] made it fun,” she said. “We would train the same time as the men so it was a real social environment, we did loads of tournaments and we had the Stampede tournament. There was a real nice mixture and a really good group, and they all did a great job.”

She credited Sherlock, aka ‘Unc,’ for being the driving force behind the success in her early career.

“I’m very thankful for Unc for his work on this induction,” she said. “I’m very excited, proud and surprised, but it was a nice surprise. To have so many years away from Canada — I’ve lived here in London for 17 — is fantastic to get recognized.”

She was forced to retire from playing in 2012 due to a blood clot in her leg, however, had already planned to step back from the sport at the end of the year. Now working as a special education teacher in science at a secondary school in London, Cripps is married with one child.

Looking at the rugby landscape in Williams Lake currently, Cripps can’t help but smile.

Read more: Falcons drop nailbiter in bronze-medal match at provincials

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Even if you look at Quesnel and Prince George and compare what Williams Lake has done with players like Matt Weingart, the Ilnickis, Kayla Moleschi — it’s a huge community.

“That comes from the high schools with Morley Wilson and all those guys. They must be running amazing programs and getting the interest up.

“I remember watching Kayla Moleschi when she was under 19 and they were here on tour, and watching her I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s the next captain of Canada for the sevens team. Williams Lake is so good, so many world champions.”

Cripps joins Alan Banwell (builder), Glenn Ennis (player), Gord MacKinnon (player), Tim Murdy (coach) and Jim and Joan Porter (builders).

Details for the induction ceremony will be announced in the coming weeks on the Hall of Fame website at

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Cripps headed for BC Rugby Hall of Fame

Cripps headed for BC Rugby Hall of Fame

Just Posted

School District 27 (SD27) issued notice Thursday, Feb. 25 of a COVID-19 exposure at Mountview Elementary School. (Angie Mindus photo)
School district reports positive COVID-19 case in Williams Lake elementary school

A letter went home to families of Mountview Elementary School

The City of Williams Lake is asking for public feedback on whether it should explore the opportunity to host a Greater Metro Hockey League team in Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City of Williams Lake seeks feedback on hosting junior hockey league team

A league expansion application in Quesnel is also pending

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

LADDER USED IN FIRE FIGHT: While smoke billows out of the second floor of the Maple Leaf Hotel, members of the Williams Lake Volunteer Fire Department fight to contain the blaze. The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze that wreaked havoc on the interior of the 57-year-old hotel. One man, Harold Hurst of Riske Creek, died in the fire. (Ernest Engemoen photo - Williams Lake Tribune, April 12, 1977)
FROM OUR ARCHIVES: Ladder used in fire fight

The department was called out Tuesday morning to battle the blaze

Provincial funding in the amount of $300,000 has been announced for the Cariboo Regional District’s plans to improve the Anahim Lake Airport runway. (CRD photo)
$300,000 provincial funding to fuel Anahim Lake Airport runway upgrade

The recovery grant is one of 38 announced to support jobs in rural communities

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read