Canada Women’s 7s Preview: Sao Paulo

The roster has been finalized and the dates are set.

Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Starting February 7 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Canadian women’s sevens team will be gunning for the breakthrough performance which has so far eluded them on the World Rugby Women’s Sevens World Series.

Canada Women’s 7s Preview: Sao Paulo

At least, that’s the plan. But a massive snowstorm on the US east coast recently led to the cancellation of numerous international flights, and the team found themselves stranded in Vancouver.

As of this writing the women are still on the BC mainland—they spent Monday at an impromptu training session while waiting for a break in the weather. Or a philanthropic rugby fan with a private jet.

Whenever they finally arrive in Sao Paulo, the Canadians will be looking to win a tour event for the first time; since the first edition of the multi-city Women’s Sevens World Series in 2012-13, they have a total of two 2nd and five 3rd place finishes.

Such a run of success is hardly anything to be scoffed at, and reflects Canada’s status as one of the tour’s best sides. And yet the 3rd place finish in Dubai which kicked off the 2014-15 season has left the team feeling that they underachieved yet again.

That’s because it was Canada’s fourth straight 3rd place tournament finish, to go along with 3rd place on the final series table in both 2012-13 and 2013-14. One can understand, then, why late last year, star back Ghislaine Landry half-jokingly told The Canadian Press, “We’ve finished third so many times that I’m starting to hate that number.”

Winning games and making the knock-out stages has been little trouble. The problem has been winning all the right games at the all the right times. Canada has the goods to beat the likes of traditional powerhouses New Zealand and Australia, but have mostly fallen short against those teams when the elimination games roll around.

It’s a situation this group will be keen to rectify in Brazil, especially with an eye towards the first-ever Canadian WSWS tour stop coming up April 18 and 19 in Langford, BC.

Head Coach John Tait has assembled and developed a team with fitness and skill in spades, leaving little doubt that they will take out a Cup victory sooner or later. It’s only a matter of getting that on-field result.

With that ultimate goal in mind, the women will kick off their Pool C schedule against Russia on Day 1. Although rugby dominance and Russia don’t typically go hand-in-hand, Russia’s sevens women have proved to be one of the better teams on the tour—in the short history of the WSWS, they have complied a record of 28 wins 23 losses and 3 draws—and haven’t lost to Canada in their two matchups over that time. Canada will need to hit the ground running if they’re to topple the Russians.

Second on the schedule is South Africa, a team which has historically struggled to gain traction in the tour standings. Their coach, Renfred Dazel, has recently upped the intensity of his squad’s training in an effort to improve their performances on match days. Still, this a highly winnable game for Canada.

Day 1 will wrap up with a match against the always-tough English, who will only be boosted with the additions of Katy Mclean, Marlie Packer, and Natasha Brennan, three members of England’s World Cup-winning XV’s side last August. This should be an outstanding game, and, unless South Africa surprises, will likely determine the top two teams in Pool C.

It’s a tough pool for Canada, and they’ll undoubtedly be set back by the recent travel fiasco. But as always, they’ll bring an attacking mindset and plenty of skill to the table—and who could doubt their mental strength after seeing them take on Mother Nature and come out smiling as they have?

Canada’s Schedule for Sao Paulo Sevens, Day 1:

 

Day One – February 7, 2015

Canada vs Russia (8:00 am ET / 5:00 am PST)

Canada vs South Africa (12:12 pm ET / 9:12 am PST)

Canada vs England (2:56 pm ET / 11:56 am PST)

 

Canada’s Roster for Sao Paulo : (Club) Hometown, Province

Hannah Darling – (Peterborough Pagans RFC/Shawnigan Lake School) Warsaw, ON

Bianca Farella – (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC

Julia Greenshields – (Sarnia Saints) Sarnia, ON

Jennifer Kish – (Edmonton Rockers RFC) Edmonton, AB

Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish RFC) Toronto, ON

Mandy Marchak – (Capilano RFC) Winnipeg, MB

Kayla Moleschi – (Williams Lake Rustlers) Williams Lake, BC

Karen Paquin – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC

Nadia Popov – (Aurora Barbarians) Newmarket, ON

Kelly Russell – (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON

Ashley Steacy – (Lethbridge Rugby Club) Lethbridge, AB

Charity Williams – (Markham Irish) Toronto, ON

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