Nadia Popov, Charity Williams selected for Canadian Team headed for Sao Paolo leg of World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series as part of Olympic Qualification
LANGFORD, BC – Langford, BC – Canada’s Women’s Sevens head coach John Tait has announced his roster for the second round of the 2014-15 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil February 7-8.
After a third place finish in December at the Dubai Sevens, Tait’s team sits third in the standings with 16 points. The top four teams at the end of the season will automatically qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Despite the successful start to the season in Dubai, Tait has made three changes to his lineup, with two players set to make their Canada Women’s Sevens Team debut.
20-year-old Nadia Popov and 18-year-old Charity Williams will make the jump to the senior team after spending time in Canada’s junior ranks.
Popov was part of Canada’s gold medal winning team at the 2014 FISU Women’s Sevens Championship and has spent time with Canada’s development side the Maple Leafs.
At just 18, Williams is one of Canada’s most promising young female rugby players. Last summer she was named to the Canadian Women’s Sevens Youth Olympic Team that finished in second place at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.
“Nadia and Charity have both competed hard to get selected, they are very talented physically and have been growing more consistent and confident with their skills,” said Tait. “I am sure they will be nervous stepping up to a series event competition but I am very confident they are more than capable as they have been competing with one of the best teams in the world each week at training for the last two years.”
Sao Paulo will give fans a look into the future of Canada’s Women’s Sevens program because joining Popov and Williams will be another teenager, 18-year-old Hannah Darling.
Unlike Popov and Williams, Darling does have some senior team experience having made her series debut last year in Guangzhou. She was also the captain of Canada’s silver medal winning team in Nanjing.
While there is much at stake this year with Olympic qualifying, Tait believes it is still important to be developing his younger players.
“We have to use the series as a gauge to see where they are at performance wise because that is the ultimate test for any player,” said Tait. “I expect them to make some mistakes but what I am looking for is how quickly they bounce back and learn from them.”
All three changes to the team were made based on performance from their training camp in San Diego earlier this month as well as recent team scrimmages.
“Of course you always take into consideration past performance and player trends, but in order for us to improve as a team we need consistency in performance from everyone in the squad,” said Tait. “The squad will settle more as we get closer to Rio but also once we start competing for cup finals more regularly.”
Tait says a lot of the team performed really well in San Diego, which made his decisions that much harder.
“We believe the gap between the bottom-half of our roster and training group has shrunk significantly,” said Tait. “It has become a headache for selection, but more importantly it gives us solid depth moving towards Rio and will keep complacency out of our group.”
Canada is grouped with England, Russia and South Africa in Pool C.
All matches from the Dubai Sevens will be streamed LIVE at http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series
Sao Paulo Sevens Schedule
Day One – February 7, 2015
Canada vs Russia at 11:00 am local time (8:00 am ET / 5:00 am PT)
Canada vs South Africa at 3:12 pm local time (12:12 pm ET / 9:12 am PT)
Canada vs England at 5:56 pm local time (2:56 pm ET / 11:56 am PT)
Day Two – February 8, 2015
Canada’s Roster for Sao Paulo Sevens – Name, (Club) Hometown
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
Canada’s Coaching Staff
Head Coach: John Tait
Assistant Coach: Sandro Fiorino
Therapist: Sandeep Nandhra
Strength and Conditioning: Dana Agar-Newman
Manager: Meg Howat
Analyst: Callum Morris