Mandy Marchak photo Ian Muir
LANGFORD, BC – Hannah Darling, Bianca Farella, Sara Kaljuvee and Ghislaine Landry will all return to Canada’s women’s sevens lineup for the Sao Paulo Sevens next weekend in Brazil.
Head coach John Tait has also given a series debut to Breanne Nicholas as Canada heads into the second tournament of the season.
“We’re excited to get back into competition mode,” Tait said. “It’s been a good couple of weeks of preparation since we returned from San Diego. We moved our setup down there for two weeks for the better weather, as the conditions are similar to what we see in the series.
“We’ve also had a chance to train with the USA at their home base and scrimmage with them allowing us to try out some different tactics against someone other than ourselves.”
Jen Kish will once again captain Canada while Britt Benn, Megan Lukan, Mandy Marchak, Kayla Moleschi, Karen Paquin and Kelly Russell keep their spots. Veterans Ashley Steacy, Elissa Alarie, Natasha Watcham-Roy and Magali Harvey are unavailable due to injury.
Nicholas has soared through Canada’s age grade system and last year was named Rugby Canada’s Young Female Player of the Year. The Blenheim, Ont., native has toured with Canada’s Maple Leafs to Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Central Coast and Las Vegas within the last year.
“I’m really excited to be making my series debut for Canada next weekend,” Nicholas said. “I’m looking forward to travelling with the team for my first World Series tour.
“The Maple Leafs tournaments have definitely helped quite a bit as it has got me involved in sevens and in playing different countries and travelling around the world.”
Canada is coming off of a sixth place finish in Dubai in the Women’s HSBC Sevens Series opener. After going 2-1 on Day 1, Canada fell to England in the cup quarters before finishing sixth after an extra time defeat to New Zealand with a win against Spain wedged between.
“We started the way we wanted to but we need to finish the way we want,” Marchak said. “We just need to find that finish that we’re looking for.”
Canada has been drawn into Pool A with Australia, Fiji and Ireland in Sao Paulo, with the latter two presenting Canada with the same opposition from their Dubai pool. Canada fell 24-10 to Fiji but beat Ireland 17-7. Canada has never lost to Ireland and is 3-1 against Fiji. Canada is 4-7 all-time against Australia with their last meeting coming in Amsterdam where Canada won its first ever Cup title to conclude the 2014-15 season.
“We’ve played all of them numerous times now but they’re three very different opponents,” Tait said. “It’s hard to prepare for each one in the respect that they all play different styles of attack and defence but we’ve been concentrating on what our strengths are against them.”
The Sao Paulo Sevens, which takes place Feb. 20-21, can be seen LIVE at www.worldrugby.org
Canada’s Roster for the Sao Paulo Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Britt Benn – (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Hannah Darling – (Peterborough Pagans) Warsaw, ON
Bianca Farella – (Town of Mont Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
Sara Kaljuvee – (Toronto Scottish) Ajax, ON
Jen Kish – (Edmonton Rockers) Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish) Toronto, ON
Megan Lukan – (Unattached) Barrie, ON
Mandy Marchak – (Capilano RFC) Winnipeg, MB
Kayla Moleschi – (Williams Lake Rustlers) Williams Lake, BC
Breanne Nicholas – (London St. Georges) Blenheim, ON
Karen Paquin – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Kelly Russell – (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Unavailable for selection due to injury:
Elissa Alarie – (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club) Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Magali Harvey – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Ashley Steacy – (Lethbridge Rugby Club) Lethbridge, AB
Natasha Watcham-Roy – (University of Ottawa) Gatineau, QC
Canada’s Coaching Staff:
John Tait – Head Coach
Sandro Fiorino – Assistant Coach
Meaghan Howat – Manager
Sandeep Nandhra – Athletic Therapist
Tyler Goodale – Strength & Conditioning
Callum Morris – Performance Analyst
Canada’s Sao Paulo Sevens Day 1 Schedule:
Canada vs. Ireland – 9:06am ET / 6:06am PT
Canada vs. Fiji – 11:50am ET / 8:50am PT
Canada vs. Australia – 2:12pm ET / 11:12am P