Rugby Sevens: Canadian women capture bronze


Michel Belanger

July 17, 2013, KAZAN, Russia (Team Canada) (ISN) – The women’s rugby sevens team claimed Canada’s first medal in a team sport at the 27th Summer Universiade, triumphing 36-0 over Great Britain in Wednesday’s bronze medal match.

The podium finish brings Canada’s overall total to 16 medals at the FISU Games, up eight from 2011 in Shenzhen, China.

Chelsea Guthrie of Edmonton scored her seventh try of the tournament at the end of the first half to put Canada ahead 19-0. The University of Alberta student and 2013 Canada-West MVP collected the ball deep in the Canadian defensive zone after the squad made a lengthy defensive stand against the defending FISU world champions. She then ran the length of right sideline, outlasting the three British defenders who tried in vain to knock her down.

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“I saw the ball and was just thinking about pumping my legs, keep getting there,” said Guthrie of the play which marked the turning point in the match. “It was a huge momentum build for us and I’m just happy I was able to make it there in the end.”

Canada also used their speed to score the other two tries of the first half. Brianna Miller of Pointe-Claire, Que. (McGill) passed off to Natasha Watcham-Roy of Gatineau, Que. (Ottawa) for first try of game just 1:47 in, and Argyle Shore, P.E.I. native Jean Baker (St. Mary’s) followed up by taking a quick turn to the outside for a try at 4:10.

“We got the start we wanted, we wanted to get up early and put them under a bit of pressure. It’s always tough to come back in these medal games,” said head coach Matt Parrish. The University of Alberta coach also acknowledged Guthrie’s score as the turning point. “It calmed some nerves for me,” he laughed.

Miller made a long run back on the opening kick-off of the second half, establishing good field position which Canada would maintain throughout the final seven minutes. “We tried to keep them on their toes and keep pushing them forward,” said Guthrie. “Once we put pressure on them, they couldn’t really handle it.”

Canada had complete control over the second half, protecting the ball well to maintain possession.

Caroline Suchorski of Kirkland, Que. (McGill), Sarah Meng of Waterloo, Ont. (Ottawa) and Kathleen Keller of Quebec City (Laval) each added a try to pad Canada’s victory.

The medal is the first in rugby sevens at the Universiades as the sport made its debut in Kazan. Having the championship included in the sport program was a positive change for the experienced international players on Canada’s roster.

“The atmosphere was absolutely amazing,” said Guthrie. “It was an outstanding experience for all the girls.”

BOXSCORE (Canada Women vs Great Britain): Canada Women vs Great Britain

On the men’s side, the Canadians wrapped up their tournament with a 26-12 loss to Georgia in the bowl final and placed 10th overall in the first edition of rugby sevens at the Universiade.

Three scores in the first half had Georgia set up with a 21-0 halftime lead. In the second half, Eric Howard of Ottawa (University of Guelph) got the Canucks on the board by breaking through a pile of would-be tacklers at midfield and running up the middle of the pitch.

Canada kept Georgia pinned deep in their defensive zone, but had trouble breaking through the line. With fifty seconds left on the clock Richard Lebel of Waterloo, Ont. (Waterloo) collected a loose ball on the goal line and dove across to make the score 21-12, but the convert attempt fell short and a last-minute try by Georgia finished the Canadians off.

“Today Georgia was the better squad – they brought more pressure than most of our opponents and we couldn’t make the adjustment until halftime,” said Canadian head coach Sean McDonaugh. “We were trying to be patient back and forth, but Georgia came up hard in the middle and cut our reversal off.”

“Overall the guys really improved from game to game,” continued the coach. “They played their hearts out.”

BOXSCORE (Men vs Georgia): Canada Men vs Georgia