2023 Rugby Canada women’s team review: A year to remember

Rugby Canada women's team player, Fancy Bermudez, celebrates try against France

The 2023 Rugby Canada women’s team might be seen as one of the best years in the national team’s history. There were many highlights for the national team, including playing the Pacific Four Series in the nation’s capital in the summer.

2023 Rugby Canada women’s team: Finished second in the WXV 1 competition


Players stepped up

There were many players that stepped up for the national team. This included Tyson Beukeboom, who scored three tries against Australia in what was an unforgettable game at Pacific Four Series against Australia. In that same game, Sarah-Maude Lachance scored a try in that game. In addition, Lachance and Florence Symonds stepped up in the WXV 1 competition. When looking at metres made, Lachance led the competition with 228 metres made while Symonds finished fourth with 214 metres made.

READ MORE: Sophie de Goede: Player profile of Rugby Canada’s captain

Then with Sophie de Goede, Canada’s captain, was this year’s player of the year. She scored the first try against Wales in the WXV 1 competition and set-up Lachance for the last try of the game. De Goede also played a pivotal role in beating France as she converted 4/5 conversions, including one penalty conversion. Even in the losing games, De Goede, played well, as she helped score the opening try against the Black Ferns at TD Place Stadium.

Then, Fancy Bermudez, with her fantastic effort against France, won Player of the Match honours, including a try of her own in her national team debut.

Emily Tuttosi is another player to mention, who scored two tries in the WXV 1 games, including once against France. And lastly, in that 42-22 win over Wales, six different Canadian players scored against the Welsh, which shows the depth that this squad has.

As for player of the year, both Lachance and de Goede deserve top honours, they were so consistent in important games for Canada and both merit their accolades. They are definitely other players worthy as well, as it was a full-team effort all the way this year.

Very good at set-pieces

Set-pieces is something Canada has excelled in. For example, De Goede, scored the first try of the game against Australia in the 2023 Pacific Four Series. In that same game, from a set-piece, the Canadians passed it around, giving Lachance the try. One can also see this in their win against USA, where Emily Tuttosi scored a try from a scrum to open the scoring.

Not to mention that Fabiola Forteza also scored from a set-piece in a losing effort against New Zealand.

Playing at TD Place Stadium

10,092 fans attended to see the game between the Canadians and the Black Ferns. This is the highest-attended game in the Canadian women’s national team program. This is what Claire Gallagher, who made her first cap for the national team against New Zealand, said about the atmosphere (source: Rugby Canada):

“You could definitely feel the support from all the fans and any time that we needed some energy we could count on them to get behind us and use that momentum,” said Gallagher, who plays at the University of Ottawa. “It was my first cap, so pretty special to play against the reigning World Champions. So now when I look forward, how can I make a bigger impact on the field and how can I get more wins for the team.”

This is something that will live on in the memories of all rugby union fans and players in Canada. There was also a good attendance when Canada faced Australia to finish off Canada’s games in the nation’s capital.


Unable to beat England or New Zealand

The Canadians, while the year has been very successful, was not perfect. With New Zealand in the Pacific Four Series, they gave up the first 21 points of the game. Then, the Red Roses of England, ran away with the game in the second half to win 45-12 over Canada in the WXV 1 series games.

The Canadians also lost two games to England prior to the WXV 1 game in a pair of friendlies. However, a win against either New Zealand or England, would have meant a trophy to celebrate, with the Pacific Four Series or with the inaugural WXV 1 competition. This shows that while Canada has made fantastic strides, there are still things to improve on.

Game of the Year: Defeating France

Defence and set pieces were a big reason why they won the game against France. After losing quite convincingly in the 2021 Rugby World Cup bronze medal game, the Canadians redeemed themselves in the last game of the year.

Before the WXV 1 tournament started, the teams to beat were England, New Zealand, and France. While Canada was unable to defeat either England nor New Zealand, the win against France means that this national team has a lot to look forward to. This is what Bermudez summarized the game and what it meant for the Canadian national team (source: WXV Rugby):

“The match is unreal. That was honestly one of the best games I’ve played with this team we’ve just worked so hard.” Bermudez said, “We’re out here we can beat a top three team like we’re good enough and like I think we want to get slapped on so like we really showed up today and like that feels so good. That feels so good.”

READ MORE: 2022 Rugby Canada women’s team review: The nation made proud

Rugby Canada women’s team overview: The future is bright

Grade: A

The Rugby Canada women’s team had a year to remember. The only time they finished as high as second in a notable competition of the best nations in the world was the 2014 Rugby Women’s World Cup, where they lost in the final against England.

Yes, some people will note of the Pacific Four Series, but it did not include teams ranked in the top tix of the world like England, France, and Wales. What is even more impressive is what de Goede said about this team’s mentality (source: Rugby Canada)

“We wanted to win [WXV], but I am really proud of the way that we got two out of three wins,” said de Goede.

READ MORE: 2023 Toronto Arrows season wrap, and early off-season analysis

With Toronto losing their MLR franchise and the Rugby Canada men’s team struggling, in terms of the 15’s game, the women’s team is the front and centre of Canadian rugby. A team that fans can get behind and believe that one day win it all.


Photo Credit: Dave Lintott / lintottphoto.co.nz of Rugby Canada on November 4, 2023.