Rugby·Preview

Canadian women's rugby 7s team aims to build on success, improve world ranking in B.C.

Canada's women's rugby sevens team has a newfound confidence going into this weekend's HSBC Canada Women's Sevens Series tournament at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C.

Canada to open competition against Spain, Mexico, Australia on Saturday

Canada's Keyara Wardley, seen above, is one of two Olympians to have returned to the women's rugby sevens lineup recently, giving the team a boost as it approaches the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Langford, B.C., this weekend. (@RugbyCanada/Twitter)

Canada's women's rugby sevens team has a newfound confidence going into this weekend's HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C.

The team put together a dominant run of performances at the Rugby Americas North (RAN) Sevens Qualifiers in Nassau, Bahamas, going undefeated en route to winning the event and securing a World Cup berth.

Taking place September 9-11, the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 will be played in Cape Town, South Africa, consisting of 24 men's and 16 women's teams.

"We're certainly feeling much more confident. A couple of Olympians are back on our squad which is something you can't buy," interim coach Jack Hanratty told CBC Sports. "A lot of our young players have created an opportunity and the evidence is with the number of tournaments.

"Although they may be very young in age, some of them have now played four Series tournaments which is actually quite a lot. The biggest thing for us is that they're getting used to each other and we're starting to create what our own style of play is, which is exciting."

Canada, currently sitting eighth in the world, opened the Sevens Series with two eighth-place finishes in back-to-back tournaments in Dubai late in 2021. In the new year, Canada picked up a sixth, then seventh-place finish in two tournaments in Spain.

The recent shift for the Canadians has been the returns of Olympians Bianca Farella and Keyara Wardley, in addition to having the luxury of consistency with the lineups in play and time spent training together.

"We've had a lot of different squads together and this is the first time that we've had a squad that has been training together prior to the World Cup Qualifier campaign," Hanratty said.

"It's been great to be able to actually have a proper training block where we've been able to properly work together. Hopefully we'll have a lot more cohesion and momentum following the tournament in the Bahamas."

Chloe Daniels, of Sutton, Ont., will be the only player missing this weekend from the lineup that played in the Bahamas, due to injury. Toronto native Renee Gonzalez will be in her place.

The squad entered the RAN Qualifiers needing to win the tournament among a six-team field and obliterated the competition, going 3-0 on the opening day — outscoring their opponents 155-0. On the second day, Canada defeated the Cayman Islands 71-0 to book a spot in the final, where it defeated Mexico 33-0.

"We're really pleased to have secured our place at the Rugby World Cup Sevens," Hanratty said following the tournament.

"It was great to get some game time into the team and to put on such convincing performances this weekend, and we are excited to continue with this cohesion going into Langford. The squad is now brimming with confidence and is looking forward to the prospect of competing in Cape Town, South Africa later this year."

Looking ahead

Now, the team looks to build on its confidence at home, facing stiffer competition than it did in the Bahamas.

With only one more tournament remaining in the Sevens Series following this weekend, along with the Commonwealth Games and World Cup approaching later this year, the value of another solid showing from Canada is even greater.

"These last two [tournaments] are a way of lifting up where we're placed at the moment, which is eighth in the world," Hanratty said. "We want to be higher. The program historically has always been higher than that. We have to now perform against higher-ranked teams and that's something we haven't been able to do the last number of events and it's something that we're targeting."

Opening the competition against Spain, Canada will also face Mexico and top-ranked Australia in Pool A action on Saturday.

The Canadians have yet to play against Mexico in Sevens Series action this season, but have a total 1-3 record against Australia and Spain.

Canada lost to Australia 52-0, then fell 12-10 to Spain in Dubai in December. In the quarter-finals of the tournament in Malaga, Spain, Canada lost to Australia 33-10 in January, but defeated Spain 21-5 in Seville in the seventh-place play-off of the following event.

Despite the results not being up to par, the Canadians are not stuck on past results — instead electing to look ahead.

"It's about getting the experience and seeing exactly where we are against some of the top teams. In our group, we've got Australia – Australia's the best team in the world right now," Hanratty said.

"Those are exactly the teams that we want to put ourselves against to see exactly where we are on the world stage."

Roster

  • Olivia De Couvreur — Ottawa
  • Olivia Apps — Lindsay, Ont.
  • Pamphinette Buisa — Gatineau, Que.
  • Breanne Nicholas — Blenheim, Ont.
  • Nakisa Levale — Abbotsford, B.C.
  • Krissy Scurfield — Canmore, Alta.
  • Florence Symonds — Hong Kong
  • Bianca Farella — Montreal
  • Asia Hogan Rochester — Toronto
  • Fancy Bermudez — Edmonton
  • Elissa Alarie — Trois Rivieres, Que.
  • Keyara Wardley — Vulcan, Alta.
  • Renee Gonzalez — Toronto

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