Canada’s Women’s Maple Leafs fell short of defending their Kinesio Cup title this weekend at the Central Coast Sevens in Australia, but ticked the important box of giving game time to some young and developing players in the Canadian sevens program.
Women’s Maple Leafs Warm Up At the CC7s
Day 1 saw the Maple Leafs post convincing wins in their three games: 26-7 over Australia Development; 41-0 over Ozboks; and 32-0 over Manly. Some offseason rust was evident for Canada, particularly in the uncharacteristic amount of loose passes thrown, but it was a promising start considering the CC7s was the first meaningful action for most of the squad since the Pan Am games in July.
Day 2 began with the Maple Leafs downing the USA’s “Stars 7s” side by a score of 33-0, a result which was doubly encouraging from a Canadian standpoint: Thanks to various Olympic and collegiate obligations, the Stars 7s had to lean on other teams to help make up their numbers, meaning that up-and-coming Canadians Brianne Nicholls, Emily Belchos, and Caroline Crossley all became honorary Stars for the weekend and were able to soak up important minutes.
Unfortunately, that was about the end of the good news for the Maple Leafs. After their big win to start the day, they moved on to the tournament semi-final, but were eliminated in a 31-7 loss to the Aussie Pearls—the same team they had defeated in the Kinesio Cup final last year.
Despite having their weekend come ended ahead of schedule, there were many encouraging signs for Canada. Established veterans Jen Kish and Mandy Marchak looked as good as ever. Magali Harvey picked up right where she left off at the end of last season and now appears ready to assume a vital role in the squad. Britt Benn was once again explosive and cagey despite having made her sevens debut only eight months ago. And Megan Lukan, making her return to sevens after a five-year absence, played plenty of minutes and grew visibly more comfortable with each game.
All in all, the Maple Leafs’ performance at the CC7s only underscored Canada’s depth of talent, a positive sign for a team already among the best on the World Rugby Sevens World Series.
With the first leg of the series in Dubai fast approaching—to say nothing of Rio 2016—that’s a tidy weekend of work.