Undefeated Amsterdam Sevens day one sees Canada’s Women’s Team clinch top four finish on World Rugby Women’s Series; Will face France tomorrow in quarter-final
Photo credit Ron LeBlanc
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – Canada’s Women’s Sevens team has booked their spot at the 2016 Olympic Games after securing automatic qualification as one of the top-four teams in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series this season.
This will mark the first time in history a Canadian women’s rugby team has competed at the Olympics. By clinching a spot in the Cup Quarterfinals at the Amsterdam Sevens this weekend, after wins over Spain and the Netherlands, Canada ensured a top-four finish in this year’s standings.
“I let the team know, we had a quick cheer and hug and now we just want to make sure we finish the day strong,” said head coach John Tait.
With 76 points, Canada is currently tied for second with Australia in this year’s standings. The Canadians finished third in the series the previous two seasons.
“It’s the fruition of a big plan that we put together almost five years ago to get to this point as well as the goal we set at the beginning of the year as a program to get one of those (four) qualifying spots,” said Tait. “Our goal was to have it wrapped up as soon as we could to alleviate pressure and I think we came pretty close to that.”
After finishing sixth in Langford at last month’s Canada Sevens, the women responded with their best performance of the season last week in London where they finished runners-up at the London Sevens.
The women have now made the Cup Quarterfinals in 14 straight series events.
“It is all about the athletes,” said Tait. “Making a plan is one thing, and the plan we made was an aggressive one and it was always going to take a resilient group to achieve it. Full credit to the athletes we have and the leadership we have as a group. We’ve been through a lot of tough times, the growing pains of centralizing and becoming technicians in our professional approach has been a long one. It was made achievable through the great characters we have on this team and we’ve gotten stronger every year.”
While the sport continues to grow in Canada, Tait is hoping the thought of playing rugby at the Olympics resonates with children across the country.
“It can be a big catalyst, a launching point for rugby,” said Tait. “Hopefully there’s young kids watching. There is quality rugby in Canada and there’s a pathway there to attract those blue chip athletes at an earlier age.
“It’s not just about 2016, we can start and build a legacy for others to follow.”
CANADA 29-0 SPAIN
It was a perfect start for Canada, who came into this game with a 2-1 record all-time versus Spain in the series. The Canadians jumped out to an early 7-0 lead after Ghislaine Landry touched down with a try just 30 seconds into the match. The try moved Landry into first place in series scoring with 255 points.
Landry’s try was the only score in the opening half as Canada took a seven-point lead into the break. Like they did in the first half, Canada opened the scoring in the first 30 seconds of the second half, setting the pace for what was to come.
Bianca Farella made it a 14-0 lead for Canada and three minutes later it was Karen Paquin powering her way through to make it a 19-0 game. Magali Harvey and Britt Benn added two more tries to cap off a four-try half for the Canadians, giving them a comfortable 29-0 win.
Canada 34-10 Netherlands
Canada made it two wins from two as they beat the hosts Netherlands 34-10. Canada fell behind a minute in as Annemarije Van Possum touched down in the corner but Canada responded with four straight tries before half time to take control.
Ghislaine Landry got Canada on the board as she hit a gap and outpaced the Netherlands defence for her 50th try in just her 12th appearance in the series. Jen Kish would make it 10-5 Canada before Landry got her second of the game after intercepting a pass with one hand and running down the sideline for the try. Karen Paquin would make it 20-5 Canada at the break.
The Netherlands would get the first score of the second half as Paula Schouten touched down but Landry would complete her hat-trick before Brittany Benn added Canada’s sixth try of the game to complete a 34-10 win.
Canada 26-5 France
Canada completed a perfect Day 1 at the Amsterdam Sevens with a 26-5 win over France to top Pool C. After falling behind due to a try by Fanny Horta, Canada responded immediately on half time as Magali Harvey touched down after receiving an offload from Brittany Benn. Ghislaine Landry converted to give Canada a 7-5 lead at half time.
The second half would be all Canada as they scored three tries, the first coming from Benn who was the beneficiary of a nice offload by Jen Kish.
Karen Paquin would add Canada’s third try of the game as she scored in the corner after some nice ball movement and Landry added her third straight conversion to give Canada a commanding 21-5 lead with under three minutes to play.
It was soon 26-5 as Hannah Darling capitalized on a loose ball from the resulting kickoff and ran in for Canada’s fourth try of the game to close out a perfect Day 1.
All matches from the Amsterdam Sevens will be streamed LIVE at http://www.worldrugby.org/womens-sevens-series
Amsterdam Sevens Schedule
Day One – May 22, 2015
Canada 29-0 Spain
Canada 34-10 Netherlands
Canada 26-5 France
Day Two – May 23, 2015
Canada’s Roster for Amsterdam Sevens – Name, (Club) Hometown
Britt Benn – (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Hannah Darling – (Peterborough Pagans) Warsaw, ON
Bianca Farella – (Town of Mount Royal) Montreal, QC
Magali Harvey – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Sara Kaljuvee – (Toronto Scottish) Ajax, ON
Jennifer Kish – (Edmonton Rockers RFC) Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish) 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
Ashley Steacy – (Lethbridge Rugby Club) Lethbridge, AB
Natasha Watcham-Roy – (Hull Volant) Gatineau, QC
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