Vancouver, BC: The Canadian senior women's national sevens team will look to lift their third straight international trophy this weekend when they travel to the Netherlands for the Amsterdam Sevens.
The Canadian squad has impressed during their 2011 campaign, winning international events in Las Vegas and Hong Kong and could now be considered favourites heading into this weekend's 24-team competition. The Amsterdam Sevens event will feature sides from the host Netherlands, Russia, Kazakhstan, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Brazil, Georgia, the UK, France and Germany.
With their new head coach John Tait at the helm. the Canadian women beat the Netherlands in February in Nevada to take the Las Vegas Sevens open title, and then went 5-0 last month in Hong Kong, to win the Cup championship with a solid 28-14 win over France in the final.
We caught up with Canadian international and Meraloma Rugby Club standout Brittany Waters ahead of this weekend's tournament and the sevens flyer was quick to credit the dedication of her teammates and coaching staff for the program's recent success. (BC RUGBY) The sevens program has been dormant since the 2009 Sevens World Cup and since it's revival, Canada has proven to be one of the top international teams. What has been the key to the team's success as you've won two straight international tournaments?
(BW) The increased level of interest in the sevens game has resulted in a larger talent pool and all are vying for spots on the national team. Now there are an increased number of better coached and fitter athletes to choose from, allowing the coaching staff to select teams based on form and game fitness. The two teams picked for Las Vegas and Hong Kong have been a mix of experienced players and talented young players who have all stepped up and pushed each other. There has been some continuity of players for both tours as well which has helped build team chemistry on and off the field.
John [Tait] has played a key role in our success as well. He recognizes rugby is a simple game and that when it is played at the highest level, the simple things are extremely important. His focus on basic skills has resulted in reduced mistakes and turnovers in the games. Our fitness is also a key element in our success, especially when we have to play five games in one day as we did in Hong Kong. (BC RUGBY) A new coaching perspective always shakes up a program but it seems as though John Tait has done a great job of keeping the program on course. Can you comment on his coaching style and what he brings to the table?
(BW) As a past national team athlete, a former men's national team coach and professional rugby player overseas, John has a unique understanding of what it takes to win and how to cater a game plan to fit the athletes. John came to the program with little preconceived ideas of the athletes and therefore he has created an expectation of high performance and having to prove your worth at all times. John has created a culture of professionalism and commitment and has high expectations of his athletes. (BC RUGBY) How will the Amsterdam event be different in terms of the competition you have faced this year? Who would you say right now is proving to be your toughest opponent?
(BW) The Amsterdam event will see us facing our toughest competition yet. Our toughest opponents will be the two England sides, the Dutch national team, the Wooden Spoons and Samurai. The tournament will be a great test of where we stand amongst the best.
Having the experience of two international tournament wins is great for our confidence going into this next event. However, there is also an added pressure to maintain our recent form. We are excited to test ourselves again and we see this as a great opportunity to gain experience playing against some of the best rugby players in the world. TEAM CANADA ROSTER - AMSTERDAM SEVENS (BC players in bold)
Arielle Dubisette-Borrice - Western University (Toronto, ON)
Magali Harvey - St. Francis-Xavier University (Montreal, PQ)
Jen Kish - Edmonton Rockers - (Edmonton, AB)
Ghislaine Landry - Toronto Scottish RFC, ON & Bath Rugby, UK (Toronto, ON)Mandy Marchak - Capilano (North Vancouver, BC)Barbara Mervin - Velox Valkyries (Peterborough, ON)
Brittany Orr - University of Lethbridge (Lethbridge, AB)
Ashley Patzer - Lethbridge RFC (Lethbridge, AB)
Kelly Russell - Toronto Nomads (Caledon, ON)Brittany Waters - Meraloma Rugby Club (Vancouver, BC)
Kelsey Willoughby - Lethbridge RFC (Lethbridge, AB)
Julianne Zussman - Town of Mount Royal (Montreal, PQ)STAFF:
Coach - John Tait
Strength and Conditioning/Manager: Maria Gallo
Name - Club/University (Hometown)Andrea Burke - Capilano RFC, (Vancouver, BC)
Megan Gibbs - Markham Irish (Barrie, ON)Shannon Kane - Velox Valkyries, (Victoria, BC)Darcy Patterson - Capilano RFC, (Vancouver, BC)
Cheryl Phillips - Toronto Scottish R.F.C, (Toronto, ON)
Laura Stoughton - Calgary Irish, (Calgary AB)For more information on the Amsterdam Sevens, visit the tournament's web page www.amsterdamsevens.com