Canada’s senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier has named a 28-player roster for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup to be held in Ireland next month. The squad features 18 returnees from Canada’s 2014 squad that won silver including captain Kelly Russell and player of the tournament Magali Harvey.
“I would say our capacity to respond to challenges is the greatest strength of this squad,” Ratier said. “We were hard on players in New Zealand and during the Can-Am Series to make sure they were not in the team just to wear the jersey but to perform in every game. “They have responded well and we are expecting the same during this tough World Cup.”
BC players Carolyn McEwen and Chelsey Minter will be making their Women's Rugby World Cup debuts, joining Andrea Burk and Brittany Waters who were part of the silver medal winning squad three years ago. Also included in Ratier's selection are 7 players from Westshore RFC, the Vancouver Island team who took a comprehensive victory in the 2017 BC Rugby Women's Premier League, sponsored by belairdirect.
Speaking at the Provincial Regional Championships this weekend, McEwen said "I am excited to have the chance to represent Canada on the largest stage for the Women’s XVs game. It is a privilege to be able to represent my home club, family, friends, BC rugby, and country on the World stage. We hope that our performance at the World Cup will inspire this talented next generation of young women players to continue to play and grow the game."
Andrea Burk was also in attendance at the tournament and commented after the medal ceremonies "It is such an honour to be selected to represent Canada. It has been a dream of ours to inspire our nation and to bring the World Cup back to home soil; this is the opportunity to do exactly that. We know we have a big task ahead and it will certainly take the unquestionable backing and belief from our supporters, especially in the tight games or if we are behind in a match". She went on to say "As BC born and a homegrown Capilano RFC athlete, I have received nothing but support in this dream from my family and community. I certainly could not be where I am without them or the playing opportunities I've had with the BC Rugby pathway since the age of 15".
Canada beat the USA twice in March, winning 39-5 and 37-10 before heading to New Zealand for the IWRS. The women then finished third in the IRWS after a 28-16 loss to the Black Ferns, a 27-20 defeat to England and a resounding 45-5 win over Australia.
Heading into the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Canada ranks third in the world. In Ireland, they will face No. 2 ranked New Zealand, No. 10 ranked Wales and No. 23 ranked Hong Kong. All three pool games will take place at Billings Park UCD in Dublin.
“First we need to get through the pool,” Ratier said. “With this tournament format there is no room for mistakes.
“We will take it one game at a time and we will see where we are at the end but right now our entire focus is on the game against Hong Kong.”
Canada faces Hong Kong August 9, Wales August 13 and New Zealand August 17. The tournament features three pools of four. The three pool winners advance to the semi-finals along with the best second place team.
All three of Canada’s pool games as well as the two semi-finals and final, will be shown LIVE on TSN.
Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup Squad (Name, club, hometown):
Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, QC)
Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC (Innisfil, ON)
Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC (Uxbridge, ON)
Latoya Blackwood, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC)
Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)
Jacey Grusnick, Aurora Barbarians (Alliston, ON)
Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids (Edmonton, AB)
Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec (Quebec City, QC)
Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON)
Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats (Guelph, ON)
Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club (Brampton, ON)
Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK)
Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby Lake RFC (Vancouver, BC)
DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)
Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)
Brianna Miller, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Pointe-Claire, QC)
Chelsey Minter, Westshore RFC (Victoria, BC)
Cindy Nelles, Belleville Bulldogs (Belleville, ON)
Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers (QuebecCity, QC)
Frederique Rajotte, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC (Montreal, QC)
Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC( Bolton, ON)
Kelly Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)
Kristy Sargent, Leprechaun Tigers (Edmonton, AB)
Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC)
Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB)
Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)
Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers (Montreal, QC)
Gillian Boag, Capilano RFC (Calgary, AB)
Anais Holly, TMRRFC (Montreal, QC)
Daria Keane, Guelph Redcoats (Sarnia, ON)
Katie McNally, Castaway Wanderers (Guelph, ON)
Camile Provencal-Aube, Abénakis et CRQ/Castaway Wanderers (Sherbrooke, QC)
Natasha Smith, Barrhaven Scottish/Cowichan RFC (Ottawa, ON)
Sara Svoboda, Belleville Bulldogs (Belleville, ON)
Francois Ratier — Head Coach
Shaun Allen — Assistant Coach
Gary Dukelow — Scrum Coach
Colette McAuley — Technical Support
Nicole Crowley — Manager
Shannon Houston — Doctor
Nicole Ainsworth — Lead Therapist
Brad Curry — Support Therapist
Jamie McCartney — Strength and Conditioning
James Kent — Video Analyst
Canada’s Women’s Rugby World Cup Schedule:
Canada vs. Hong Kong — August 9 — 12:15pm ET/9:15am PT
Canada vs. Wales — August 13 — 12pm ET/9am PT
Canada vs. New Zealand — August 17 — 7am ET/4am PT
Original article - Matt Tidcombe. Image courtesy of Rugby Canada.