Langford, BC – Canada’s women’s sevens team head coach John Tait has named his roster for the upcoming Dubai Sevens, the first round of the 2017-18 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series which begins next Thursday in Dubai.
The tournament kicks off an important eight-month stretch for the women’s sevens program, which sees them competing in the WSS as well as the Commonwealth Games in April and the World Cup in July.
Canada’s depth will be showcased in Dubai, where two new players will be making their senior debuts as Tait has selected Emma Chown and Tausani Levale into the squad, joining an experienced group which includes Britt Benn, Caroline Crossley, Hannah Darling, Julia Greenshields, Jen Kish, captain Ghislaine Landry, Megan Lukan, Kayla Moleschi, Breanne Nicholas and Natasha Watcham-Roy.
Tausani, from Abbotsford BC, has been a standout player for her age for years and follows in the footsteps of older sister, Nakisa, who was part of Canada's centralised program. No doubt her international experience from travelling to France to represent Canada in the U18 European Championships, as well as being part of the BC U18 Girls' XV side that toured Ireland this summer, will help her manage the daunting task of stepping up on to the world stage. Fellow teammates and BC athletes Kayla Moleschi (Williams Lake Rustlers) and Caroline Crossley (Castaway Wanderers) will be on hand to help her settle into the team.
With injuries to Bianca Farella, Sara Kaljuvee, Kaili Lukan and Charity Williams, Tait is turning to Chown and Levale, who turned 18 in October.
The two players impressed the head coach last month in Australia where Canada held a preseason training camp and also competed in the Central Coast Sevens.
“Both have been playing consistently well and improving every week,” said Tait. “They both executed their roles well in Australia and did a good job of looking after the ball. Emma has really good speed and size while Tausani is a good playmaker and has developed skillsets beyond her age. Dubai will give us an opportunity to see how they do at the series level and grow the depth of our player pool with series experience.”
Dubai is one of five tournaments on the circuit this season, with stops coming in Sydney, Kitakyushu, Langford and Paris.
Canada has finished in the top three of the WSS five years in a row and Tait hopes a strong showing in Dubai will be the catalyst for another successful season.
“With only five series stops this season it means that we need to finish in the top two or three at each tournament to be in contention to win the overall series going into the last couple of legs,” said Tait. “We have had a good warmup tournament in Australia to knock off the rust but even so, Dubai is always tough for us to transition from training in the wet and cold of Victoria to playing top-level teams in the desert heat. I am confident in our structures though and if we connect defensively and attack the way we can, then everyone will be better for it and the performance and results will come.”
While Canada has won tournaments before and finished on the podium many other times, they’ve never finished a season first in the WSS standings. It’s something Tait would like to change.
“Our primary goal this season will be to win the overall series, something we haven’t yet achieved, which will set us up with seeding and momentum to contest for the World Cup this summer,” said Tait. “We have a team that believes they can win every time we perform but also realize that to perform we need to focus on individual roles and execution of them. If the opposition doesn’t match that with their own performance we will win.”
Canada’s Dubai Sevens Roster (Name - Club, Hometown):
Britt Benn – Guelph Redcoats (Napanee, ON)
Emma Chown – Kingston Panthers (Barrie, ON)
Caroline Crossley – Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Hannah Darling – Peterborough Pagans (Warsaw, ON)
Julia Greenshields – Sarnia Saints (Sarnia, ON)
Jen Kish – Edmonton Rockers (Edmonton, ON)
Tausani Levale – Abbotsford Griffins (Abbotsford, BC)
Ghislaine Landry – Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)
Megan Lukan – Unattached (Barrie, ON)
Kayla Moleschi – Williams Lake Rustlers (Williams Lake, BC)
Breanne Nicholas – London St. Georges RFC (Blenheim, ON)
Natasha Watcham-Roy – Hull Volant (Gatineau, QC)
Canada's Dubai Sevens Day 1 Schedule (Thursday, November 30):
Canada vs Spain at 3:22 am ET / 12:22 am PT
Canada vs Ireland at 6:18 am ET / 3:18 am PT
Canada vs Fiji at 9:15 am ET / 6:15 am PT
Article by Mark Sheldon, Rugby Canada. Image courtesy of Rugby Canada