The summer is finally here and rugby season for Canada is now in full swing. Today, we look ahead at what the summer has in store for the Rugby Canada Women in (newly minted UnderArmour) red and white!
Senior Women’s Team:
The Senior Women’s Team has the most at stake this summer season. Coming off another third place finish in the Sevens World Series and a two win sweep over the US Eagles in April, the Lady Leafs hunkered down for an extended training camp followed by some much deserved time off. On May 30th, they get back down to business when they fly to New Zealand for the start of their pre-World Cup tour.
Canada vs. Australia – June 6th, Tauranga NZ
Canada will open the test series against world number two Australia. Shockingly, this will be the first meeting between Canada and Australia in a full international and the Women are no doubt chomping at the bit to face the Wallaroos. Aside from the pomp and circumstance of a first official meeting, this game will set the tone for Canada going into the double header with New Zealand and give an idea of what to expect should they make the semi-finals of the World Cup.
UPDATE: The Women came out strong against the Aussie’s early Friday morning and upset the world number two team 22 – 0. While they knew the match would be well contested and that they had a chance to win, a shutout is something no one accounted for. This big win will give the Lady Leafs huge confidence going into their double header with the world number one, Black Ferns.
Canada vs. New Zealand – June 10th, Tauranga NZ
Canada vs. New Zealand – June 14th, Whakatane NZ
With only a short three day break between all their games, they tourists will need to stay focused in order to challenge the Black Ferns in their ancestral homeland on the Bay of Plenty. The June 10th match will see Canada face New Zealand for the first time in eight years, a 66-7 loss at the 2006 World Cup. Canada faces an eight game losing streak against New Zealand stretching back to 1991, something they hope to change before the World Cup in August.
Ultimately, this tour of New Zealand gives Canada the best opportunity to prepare for the World Cup. To face the top two teams in the world, back to back, should give Canada a leg up on the other competition. That said, it is likely that should Canada make the semi-final (and this is an expectation), they will face one of these two teams. The Canadian women have a chance to firmly put themselves in the discussion with Australia and New Zealand. The time is now for them to make their mark. Anything less than a semi-final appearance will be considered a failure for this squad.
Women’s Rugby World Cup – August 1 – 17, Paris France
Championship final or bust! Go Canada Go!
Canada’s Roster for New Zealand Tour– Name, (Club) Hometown
Elissa Alarie, (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club) Trois-Rivieres, QC
Emily Belchos, (Markham Irish RFC) Barrie, ON
Brittany Benn, (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Stephanie Bernier, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, Quebec
Tyson Beukeboom, (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, Ontario
Latoya Blackwood, (St. Anne de Bellevue) Montreal, QC
Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
Sammy Crandell, (Hornets RFC) Calgary, AB
Olivia DeMerchant, (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
Kim Donaldson, (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club) Toronto, ON
Jessica Dovanne, (Velox RFC) Victoria, BC
Magali Harvey, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Mary Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
Hilary Leith, (Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
Kayla Mack, (Wild Oats RFC) Saskatoon, SK
Mandy Marchak, (Capilano RFC) Winnipeg, MB
Jacey Murphy, (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
Cindy Nelles (Oakville Crusaders/McMaster University) Belleville, ON
Karen Paquin, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Marie-Pier Pinault-Reid, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Kelly Russell, (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Laura Russell, (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Maria Samson, (Calgary Hornets) Calgary, AB
Julia Sugawara, (Burnaby Lake RFC) Surrey, BC
Amanda Thornborough, (Brandon Barbarians RFC) Brandon, MB
Brittany Waters, (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC
Julianne Zussman, (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
Photo Credit: Rugby Canada