Canadian women's rugby sevens a team to watch out for

Two-time Olympic bobsleigh champion and former rugby player Heather Moyse provided her analysis on the women’s rugby sevens team. Moyse touched on Canada’s medal chances at both the Pan Am Games and Olympics, and also gave a scouting report on key players.

Canada’s squad legitimate medal contender for Pan Ams, Rio Olympics

Rugby sevens captain Jen Kish, Magali Harvey, centre, and Ghislaine Landry, right, will make Canada a force at the Pan Am Games and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. ((Getty Images/Canadian Press))

Since the IOC added the sport of rugby sevens to the 2016 Rio Olympic calendar six years ago, the Canadian women have certainly been a team on the rise.

Canada made headway at the 2013 World Cup in Russia, finishing as runners up to New Zealand.

The women have continued their quest for more international success, coming off a second-place overall finish on the Women's Sevens Series, a season that included a first-ever tournament win in Amsterdam in May.

They also became the first Canadian team to qualify for the Rio Olympics. Canada is expected to be among the top countries at both the Pan Am Games in Toronto, which takes place July 11-12 at BMO Field, and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

So how good are these Canadian women? For an inside look, we turned to Heather Moyse to provide some answers. Why would we enlist a two-time Olympic bobsleigh champion for analysis.

Well, for starters Bobsleigh Canada recruited Moyse from the sport of rugby. Moyse also played on the rugby sevens team that won silver at the World Cup event in 2013.

The Summerside, P.E.I., native touched on a few areas, including the team's medal chances – both at the Pan Am Games and Olympics – and also gave a scouting report on key players: With the Canadians clinching a spot for Rio recently, they have plenty of momentum heading into the Pan Am Games. What should the expectations be in Toronto?

Moyse: Gold, I would assume. And that should be a realistic goal. Based on the teams who they are competing against [Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, U.S.] anything less than that would probably be a disappointment, I would say. They're definitely shooting for gold. What about Rio?

Moyse: Oh, they are shooting for a medal, for sure. It's realistic for them to shoot for a medal. It's great for the girls to experience success. They still have a ton of events before the Olympics next year, which is great. It'll be nice to know how that success immediately before an event like the Pan Ams can affect their mindset before going into the Olympics. But that core team that they have, they're definitely capable of being on that podium. Let's talk about some key players. Magali Harvey was named 2014 International Rugby Board women's player of the year. She's been up and down recently but give us your take on her?

Moyse: She's a very talented rugby player. She's usually one of the leading scorers because she's also a kicker, which is a huge asset on the sevens circuit. She's so shifty. The sevens event is all about speed and agility and getting past your opponent. She is the kind of person that will literally jump in the air and she'll almost shift her direction two or three times before she hits the ground again. Opponents just don't know which way her plant foot is going to send her. Captain Jen Kish is a tackling machine and displays power with the ball in her hand. What makes her so good?

Moyse: She has incredible drive and determination. She's played through injuries and when you see most of the photos where she's playing, she's usually taped up all over the place. She has that Pan Am slogan mindset "now or never." That would fit her mentality a lot. That would fit Jen's personality and the way that she plays. She's a very tough but aggressive player. Her style isn't as fancy as Magali's would be. Magali is very shifty and very unpredictable. Jen has very good cut ability and she can cheat those gaps in the middle. Ghislaine Landry led the 2014-15 World Series with 301 points and was second in tries with 39. She's only five-foot-five and 137 pounds but continues to pile up the points. Why?

Moyse: I played club [league] with her years ago. She was always frustrated because she was always told she wasn't big enough to play on the national 15 team. Then all of the sudden when the national sevens program came up it was the place where she belonged. She is a phenomenal player. When I think about her, I just smile. She's such a great person. She's very shifty as well. But she's shiftier on the ground. She'll make this really short stab to one side and then she'll take off like a bolt of lightning to the other side. She's so fast.  Landry and Magali complement each other so well because they have different ways to deke out their opponents. 


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