by Rugby Canada Communications
Photo Paige Stewart
Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team have the honour of being the first-ever Pan American Games women’s rugby sevens champions, winning the inaugural gold medal with three resounding victories on Day Two of the competition.
After opening the day with a 45-0 win over Argentina, Canada closed out their round-robin pool matches by defeating the United States of America 34-12. The victories guided Canada through to the gold medal match, where a rematch against USA saw Canada produce their finest match of the tournament; a thorough 55-7 victory secured the Pan Am title for Canada, and ensured gold medals were won on home soil in front of 20,000 passionate, lively supporters.
Head Coach John Tait, following the Pan Am Games:
“The girls did a fantastic job all weekend. They great play allowed us to be able to rotate our lineup the whole weekend without losing any momentum through the pool stages. That gave us some fresh legs to be able to rest many of our top girls, and the young girls really came on and did great throughout the whole tournament. It allowed our top lineup to hit the ground fresh in the 20-minute final, and that was probably the difference in the end.”
“These Pan Am Games have been an amazing atmosphere. It’s was very, very loud and passionate at Exhibition Stadium. We talked about it before the game, about the boost we were going to get from the crowd and channelling our emotions, and making sure we were really communicating with one another out there on the pitch. We’ve played in front of big crowds before, but usually allegiances are split. Today, it was all Canada, and it gave us a big boost.”
“I’d say this was probably the best performance of our year. We were clinical after USA scored that first try against us in the final. We just settled down and took a deep breath. Kish pulled everyone in and told them to relax, and they really started firing from there. It was 18 or 19 minutes of the best rugby we’ve played all year.”
Captain Jen Kish, following the Pan Am Games:
“To share our win with the crowd, the Canadian fans who back us every single day, and boost us on the field, is an amazing feeling. It’s a dream come true, because as an athlete, you want to play in big stadiums like this, and you want the support of the Canadian crowd, and that’s exactly what we got.”
“There’s definitely going to be more great days for this team. Every time we put on the Canadian jersey, we want to give the best performance we can, and we’re always cup hunting. We always want to be the best that we can be as we build towards Rio 2016. Ultimately, we want to put in the best performance, and when we do that, the gold medal will be around our necks.”
CANADA 45-0 ARGENTINA
Canada picked up right where they left off on Day One of the Pan American Games, opening Day Two with a convincing 45-0 victory over Argentina.
Magali Harvey opened the scoring in the second minute to give Canada the early lead, and the host nation never looked back, scoring three more tries in the half. Nadia Popov struck for a first-half brace, sandwiching Natasha Watcham-Roy’s tally as Canada built a 24-0 lead heading into the break.
Three second-half tries cemented the victory for Canada, with Ghislaine Landry and Karen Paquin adding singles in the final frame, while Popov crossed over for her hat trick.
The victory marked Canada’s fourth consecutive shutout, and secured the national side a berth in the afternoon’s gold medal match, despite having one pool match remaining.
CANADA 34-12 USA
Canada completed Pan American Games pool play atop their six-team round-robin standings after claiming a resounding 34-12 victory over North American rivals United States of America.
Canada exploded for an offensive outpouring in the opening seven minutes, successfully keeping the ball inside the American half for the entire first frame. Tries from Natasha Watcham-Roy, Sara Kaljuvee and a double from Nadia Popov allowed the hosts to rack up a 24-0 halftime lead.
After two early second-half tries from Britt Benn and Kaljuvee increased Canada’s lead to 34-0, the USA found their breakthrough, becoming the first team in these Pan Am Games to score a try against the host nation. Canada’s impressive shutout streak lasted more than nine halves; a run of form that extended for more than 67 minutes.
A try at the final whistle would serve as a late consolation for the United States, with the two sides set to meet in the women’s rugby sevens gold medal match later in the day.
CANADA 55-7 USA
In front of 20,000 roaring fans at Exhibition Stadium, Canada earned the first women’s rugby sevens gold medal in Pan American history, defeating the United States of America 55-7 to clinch the momentous honour.
After falling behind 7-0 on the heels of a Kristen Thomas try, Canada buckled down to regroup in a remarkable fashion: Magali Harvey, Karen Paquin, Ghislaine Landry, and Jen Kish all responded with pacey and determined first-half tries to amass a 26-7 lead at halftime.
Exiting the interval, Canada showed no signs of slowing down, and built on their first-half momentum by producing four more tries before the sound of the final whistle. Harvey, Paquin, and Landry all struck again in the frame, while Ashley Steacy added a single tally.
The victory completed a remarkable run of form for the national side, which saw Canada score 285 points in the six-match tournament, while only conceding 19 – an exclamation point on a thorough gold-medal performance.
Canada’s Women’s Roster for 2015 Pan American Games:
Britt Benn – (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Hannah Darling – (Peterborough Pagans) Warsaw, ON
Magali Harvey – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Sara Kaljuvee – (Toronto Scottish) Ajax, ON
Jen Kish – Captain (Edmonton Rockers RFC) Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish) Toronto, ON
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
Natasha Watcham-Roy – (Hull Volant) Gatineau, QC
Canada’s Women’s Team Staff for 2015 Pan American Games:
John Tait – Head Coach
Sandro Fiorino – Assistant Coach
Meaghan Howat – Manager
Callum Morris –Performance Analyst
Sandeep Nandhra – Physiotherapist
Tyler Goodale – Strength & Conditioning