Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome the newest member of the RWU staff, Kyle Phillips. Kyle will bring a fresh Canadian feel to our 7s coverage and more going forward.
VANCOUVER, BC – Since the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series (WSWS) began three years ago, Canada has been one of the top sides in the world. Sporting an overall record of 60 wins, 26 losses, and 4 draws, the Canadians have finished third or higher in 11 of the 15 all-time WSWS events.
Canada ticked some massive boxes on the 2014-15 WSWS, closing the season with their first-ever Cup victory, finishing second on the overall series table, and qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The road was far from smooth, however. Canada started 2014-15 the same way they finished 2013-14—with three straight third-place finishes. And while that’s no small achievement, it wasn’t a run that sat well with a group of players who considered themselves among the best in the world. Narrow semi-finals losses—12-7 against Australia in Sao Paulo and 24-22 versus New Zealand in Atlanta—only added to the frustration.
Perhaps most vexing for the team would have been their plunge to sixth-place in their first-ever home tournament, the Langford 7s in April 2015. Head coach John Tait expressed hope that the disappointment in would act as a “wakeup call,” and his squad responded, finishing second on the next leg of the series in London, then claiming the aforementioned Cup victory on the following leg in Amsterdam. To cap things off in style, they also won gold at the Pan-Am games two months later—on home soil in Toronto.
Who’s who in 2015-16
Leading the way will be Jen Kish, captain of the team since 2012, and one of the tour’s premier players. Kish excels at the breakdown, but is also an ace at retrieving kickoffs and has the athleticism to carve off big yards on offense.
Speaking of offense, Ghislaine Landry and Magali Harvey will again present a formidable dual threat for Canada’s opponents. Landry’s deceptive acceleration and world-class speed off the wing have made her the leading points-scorer in WSWS history with 402, while Harvey is often put in the role of sweeper where she can make use of the wide-open spaces that come with the position.
Canada’s “engine room” heavily relies on the trio of Kelly Russell, Mandy Marchak, and Karen Paquin. All three are key contributers in the scrum, but perhaps more importantly are happy provide physicality in all areas of the pitch.
A prime candidate to replace the injured Ashley Steacy at scrum-half will be Kayla Moleschi, making her a vital figure this season. Fortunately for Canada, Moleschi has been on a steady upward trajectory since joining the sevens program as a 21-year-old and helping the national team to a 2011 IRB Women’s Challenge Cup.
This year’s vanguard of Canadian rookies is led by Megan Lukan—who recently completed an NCAA basketball career—and 17-year-old phenom Caroline Crossley, who will be competing in the world’s premier women’s sevens tournament before she has even graduated from high school.
Canada’s top-end skill should allow them to maintain their status as one of the three best women’s sevens sides on the planet, alongside Australia and New Zealand. And while injuries will present a challenge early on (seven players have already been ruled out of the first leg in Dubai) there’s enough quality depth in this side that they may not miss a beat.
Canada’s mission in 2015-16 will be to compete for first overall in the series standings, while soaking up experience and building squad depth heading into the Rio 2016 Olympics in August. Adding at least one more Cup to their trophy case is a realistic expectation.
HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2015-16 Tour Schedule
Dubai: Dec 3-5, 2015
Brazil: Feb 20-21, 2016
USA: April 8-9, 2016
Canada: April 16-17, 2016
Team for Dubai
Britt Benn – (Guelph Redcoats)
Caroline Crossley – (Castaway Wanderers)
Arielle Dubissette-Borrice – (Toronto Scottish RFC)
Julia Greenshields – (Sarnia Saints)
Magali Harvey – (Club de Rugby Quebec)
Jen Kish, captain – (Edmonton Rockers RFC)
Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish)
Megan Lukan – (Unattached)
Mandy Marchak – (Capilano)
Kayla Moleschi – (Williams Lake Rustlers)
Karen Paquin – (Club de Rugby Quebec)
Kelly Russell – (Toronto Nomads)
2015-16 Carded Athletes
Elissa Alarie Trois-Rivieres, QC
Emily Belchos Barrie, ON
Brittany Benn Belleville, ON
Caroline Crossley Victoria, BC
Hannah Darling Warsaw, ON
Arielle Dubissette-Borrice Toronto, ON
Bianca Farella Montreal, QC
Julia Greenshields Sarnia, ON
Magali Harvey Quebec City, QC
Sara Kaljuvee Pickering, ON
Jen Kish Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry Toronto, ON
Megan Lukan Barrie, ON
Kayla Mack Saskatoon, SK
Mandy Marchak Vancouver, BC
Kayla Moleschi Williams Lake, BC
Breanne Nicholas Blenheim, ON
Karen Paquin Quebec City, QC
Nadia Popov Newmarket, ON
Kelly Russell Caledon, ON
Ashley Steacy Lethbridge, AB
Natasha Watcham-Roy Gatineau, QC
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