Canadian Women's Head Coach John Tait has announced the two rosters representing Canada just days before flying to Dubai for the first stop of the recently publicized Women's Sevens World Series (WSWS) in Dubai. The announcement of the National 7s and Canadian Maple Leafs squads comes amongst a two-week training camp where the best female 7s athletes from across the country have gathered in Langford.
Throughout the two-week training camp, the 22 members of Canada's two rosters have been put through a tough pre-season regimen: weight and speed training and testing at both Rugby Canada's Centre of Excellence in Langford, and the Pacific Institute of Sports Excellence, have challenged the athletes‚ endurance and emotional vigour.
Not overlooking the damp and wet west-coast conditions familiar with Vancouver Island in November, many training sessions have been held in less-than-desirable and soggy conditions.
The chances of seeing weather comparable to Western Canada in the United Arab Emirates holds a slim-to-none chance when Team Canada touches down in the Persian Gulf next week. Nevertheless, Tait understands the value of a hard pre-season training camp.
"The week started off with team building and testing and we've gotten into rugby in the last few days,"said Tait on the COE turf in Langford. "I've been impressed with both the level of fitness and skills that the girls have come into camp with. We're ahead of where we were last year so that's a positive."
And that's good news for Canadian rugby fans as the red, white, and black have seen monumental success since they last swept the Dubai 7s Championship, outscoring their opponents 126-28 in 2011. Having also recently won the Vegas, Amsterdam, and Ottawa NACRA 7s tournaments, Team Canada has established themselves as a powerhouse in women's rugby.
Both rosters include a mix of young, talented rookies and skilled veterans, such as Mandy Marchak, Barbara Mervin, Cheryl Phillips, Ashley Steacy, Julianne Zussman, and Jen Kish, who have helped Canada join women's rugby's elite company.
When asked about the balance of rookies and returnees at the two-week training camp, National 15s star and current 7s Captain, Jen Kish, understands its importance leading towards the World Cup next year and to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
"It's super important because after the World Cup and Olympics some of the veterans are going to retire," said Kish after a training session at the COE.
"Knowing that we have that kind of depth if one of our regular starters can't play and if we have the younger players filling their shoes and we can still field a Class A Canadian Team."
Despite only being 25-years-old, Kish is considered to be one of the best female 7s athletes in the world, which bodes well for Tait's squad, who are striving for gold in the near future.
"It would be nice to win it again (Dubai), but the most important thing is to move towards putting us in a position for the finals at the World Cup and Olympics," said Tait.
Tait and his coaching staff had to make some difficult decisions in regards to who will represent Canada and on the Maple Leafs squad. However, having difficult decisions in that category isn't necessarily a bad thing.
"The coaching staff and I have had some tough choices to make for Dubai, and that‚s exactly what we want," said Tait. "We want competition within the depth we have and we feel that by having this it will make us a stronger team."
Canadian National Women's 7s Squad
Bianca Farella, (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
Magali Harvey, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Jennifer Kish, Captain (Edmonton Rockers RFC) Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Toronto, ON
Mandy Marchak, (Capilano RFC) Winnipeg, MB
Barbara Mervin, (Velox Rugby Club) Peterborough, ON
Kayla Moleschi, (Williams Lake Rustlers) Williams Lake, BC
Karen Paquin, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Cheryl Phillips, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Scarborough, ON
Kelly Russell, (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Ashley Steacy, (Lethbridge Rugby Club) Lethbridge, AB
Brittany Waters, (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC
Canadian Maple Leafs 7s Squad
Elissa Alarie, (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club) Trois Rivieres, QC
Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
Jessica Dovanne, (Velox Rugby Club) Victoria, BC
Arielle Dubissette-Borrice, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Toronto, ON
Megan Gibbs, (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON
Julia Greenshields, (Sarnia Saints RFC) Sarnia, ON
Frederique Rajotte, (Markham Irish RFC) Markham, ON
Genevieve Thibault, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Amanda Thornborough, (Brandon Barbarians RFC) Brandon, MB
Julianne Zussman, Captain (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Ottawa, ON
Coaches and Staff
John Tait, Head Coach, National Women‚s 7s
Sandro Fiorino, Head Coach, Canadian Maple Leafs
Colette McAuley, Assistant Coach
Francois Ratier, Assistant Coach
Tyler Goodale, Strength and Conditioning Coach
Meaghan Howat, National Women‚s Manager
IRB Women‚s Sevens World Series
Round 1 ˆ UAE: Dubai, November 30 ˆ December 1, 2012 ˆ 7he Sevens Stadium
Round 2 ˆ USA: Houston, Texas, 1-2 February, 2013 - BBVA Compass Stadium
Round 3 ˆ China: Guangzhou, 30-31 March 2013 - Guangzhou University Town Stadium
Round 4 ˆ Netherlands: Amsterdam, 17-18 May 2013 - NRCA Stadium
Rugby World Cup Sevens, Moscow, June 28-30 2013