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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: Canada

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: Canada

“Our strength is our collective. We’re a real team – people are playing for each other.” The words of head coach Francis Ratier in summing up his Canada Women’s squad, the beaten finalists at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in his native France.

CANADA

Head Coach: Francois Ratier
Team Captain: Kelly Russell
Women’s Rugby World Cup Record: 1991 (Fifth), 1994 (Sixth), 1998 (Fourth), 2002 (Fourth), 2006 (Fourth), 2010 (Sixth), 2014 (Runners-Up)
Current World Ranking: 3rd

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WRWC 2017 Fixtures:

Pool A –

Canada v Hong Kong, Billings Park, UCD, 5.15pm, Wednesday, August 9
Canada v Wales, Billings Park, UCD, 5pm, Sunday, August 13
Canada v New Zealand, Billings Park, UCD, 12pm, Thursday, August 17

Play-Offs –

Semi-Finals, Kingspan Stadium/Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Tuesday, August 22
Finals, Kingspan Stadium/Ranking Games, Queen’s University, Saturday, August 26

Best WRWC Moment: Canada’s defiant late defensive stand to prevent hosts France from snatching a place in the 2014 World Cup final really stands out. Magali Harvey scored a wonder try and kicked eight points in a memorable semi-final win in front of a partisan 20,000-strong French crowd.

Soundbites: Emily Belchos – “The Sevens programme has been a huge part of my life. It was three years where I grew a lot as an athlete and a person and I think it really prepared me for the level I need to be at. But I couldn’t give up the opportunity to go to another World Cup. I love 15s so much and I love the team so much.

“I remember standing on the field (before the 2014 World Cup final against England) and looking at the crowd and thinking that this is what I was meant to do. I had no nerves. I felt more comfortable and ready to play in a stadium full of fans than if no one was there. I can’t wait to, hopefully, go again and win it this time.

“Whenever I struggle in the gym or am exhausted from training, I just try to remind myself that I do this to be the best fly-half in the world and the best fly-half I can be for our nation, so we can come together and win a World Cup.”

Andrea Burk – “I started playing rugby at the age of 15. I watched my older brother play at high school and I thought, ‘Wow! What a cool sport, I can do that!’. The physicality of the sport definitely drew me to it – it’s one place in the world when growing up that I was encouraged to be as strong and as powerful and as present as I could possibly be.

“This is one of the most professional environments I’ve been a part of, both on the field and off the field. When we’re on the field it’s all about getting the job done. When we’re off the field, at team meetings and doing video analysis, we’re very much focused on what we need to do to be better, to grow and succeed.

“When it’s time to switch off, we switch off. Because we are able to laugh and we are able to support each other off the field in a fun way and a sisterly way, that gives us the capacity to go higher and go further on the field for each other.

“The silver medal from the 2014 World Cup is all of ours – it’s everybody who is on the field, everybody who is on the bench, everybody who is back home in Canada, moms, sisters, nieces, nephews, club members, team members, University members. Everybody has put an effort into the pot and put energy into the pot to make that result possible.

“Coming into 2017 I’ve had so many club members and family members at home say, ‘I want to be there. I’m going to be in Ireland’. So we’re expecting to see a lot of Canadians there cheering us on. They know the potential we have as a team. They’ve seen the exciting rugby that we play and I just can’t wait to do it for them.”

Did You Know?: Canada’s workhorse flanker Karen Paquin, who won bronze with the Sevens team in Rio last year, started playing rugby at the age of 14. Her volleyball coach told her she should try out for the school team because she would love it.

Team Profile: Canada have a clear aim to go one better than their runners-up finish at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup in France, having now firmly established themselves as one of the top three 15s teams in the world.

The Canucks’ performances in the current International Women’s Series suggest they will be serious contenders for the title in two months’ time. They recovered well from an early 14-0 deficit against the Black Ferns – their biggest rivals in WRWC Pool A – before losing out 28-16 in Wellington.

They got closer to reigning World champions England, going down 27-20 in Christchurch, and with room for improvement ahead of tomorrow’s final game against Australia, captain Kelly Russell insisted: “We need to play the full 80 minutes and we need to fight for 80 minutes. We kept ball in hand, we’ve got some fast players out there and you saw the kind of tempo we want to play. It’s just about keeping consistent and doing damage when we have the ball in hand.”

Three of Canada’s four tries so far in New Zealand were scored by their forwards, including a terrific intercept effort from openside and Sevens star Karen Paquin who was also on the scoresheet when Francois Ratier’s side defeated Ireland 48-7 last November at UCD.

Since making history with that silver medal finish at France 2014, Canada have had a well-travelled 15s squad, facing top level opponents in Utah, Dublin, London, California and now New Zealand, as well as their Sevens counterparts picking up a World Sevens Series silver and bronze in successive campaigns.

Short turnarounds and busy tournament formats seem to get the best out of Russell and her team-mates whose impressive 2016 Super Series title win, which broke new ground as they climbed into second spot in the World Rankings, was followed up by a comfortable Can-Am Series success in April when they hammered the USA 76-15 on aggregate.

Over half of Canada’s current squad were involved in that historic run through to the World Cup decider three years ago, and with head coach Ratier and captain Russell still leading from the front, that continuity and big-game experience is an obvious plus.

So too is having a player and finisher of the calibre of winger Magali Harvey, a veritable blaze of red up either touchline once she hits top speed. She should be one of Ireland 2017’s most exciting players to watch.

Harvey, who was the last World Cup’s second top scorer with 61 points, will be an important asset as Canada look to build momentum in the early Dublin rounds against new opponents Hong Kong and Wales, whom they last played in 2007, before a potential pool decider with New Zealand.

Skipper Russell, a driving force for the Canucks, said: “I completely believe in this team and what we can do, and I believe that we could come out winning the World Cup, for sure. We’re always looking to keep raising the bar and keep pushing ourselves to be the best rugby players, the best team that we can be.

“And we also want to push it for Women’s rugby. You’re seeing that across the globe now. Every tournament, every Test match, everything’s getting quicker, faster, stronger, more physical. And that’s exciting.” #BringIt

For more on the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup, visit the tournament website – www.rwcwomens.com. Buy your match tickets for #WRWC2017 now on www.ticketmaster.co.uk/wrwc2017 and www.ticketmaster.ie/wrwc2017.

CANADA INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S SERIES Squad: Elissa Alarie (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Emily Belchos (Westshore RFC), Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC), Latoya Blackwood (Westshore RFC), Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC), Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers), Jacey Grusnick (Barrhaven Scottish), Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids), Magali Harvey (Town of Mont-Royal RFC), Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians), Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats), Mary Jane Kirby (Highland Fergus Rugby Club), Kayla Mack (Saskatoon Wild Oats), Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby), DaLeaka Menin (Calgary Hornets), Barbara Mervin (Westshore RFC), Brianna Miller (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC), Chelsey Minter (Westshore RFC), Cindy Nelles (Belleville Bulldogs), Karen Paquin (Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers), Frederique Rajotte (Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC), Laura Russell (Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC), Kelly Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC) (capt), Kristy Sargent (Leprechaun Tigers), Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians), Amanda Thornborough (Westshore RFC), Brittany Waters (Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers), Julianne Zussman (Castaway Wanderers).

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: Ireland

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: England

#WRWC2017 Team Profile: New Zealand