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Ontario’s Laura Russell to captain Canada’s Women’s Rugby Team against England to open three test match series in preparation for 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland


SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH — Canada’s Senior Women’s Team Head Coach Francois Ratier has named a strong starting XV for Friday’s Women’s Rugby Super Series (WRSS) opener against England in Utah. With the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland on the horizon, the three test match WRSS provides Canada with quality opposition to continue building depth in the program.  

Captained by Ontario’s Laura Russell, the squad features 13 other players with previous test caps. Sainte Anne de Bellevue’s Frédérique Rajotte will make her test debut on the wing.

“It’s always good to have experience on the roster but in the end , what matters is what they do on the field and how they work hard to make the team successful,” Ratier said. “No player can ‘rest on their laurels.’”

Carolyn McEwen, Mary-Jane Kirby and DaLeaka Menin form the front row with Russell paired with Kayla Mack at lock. An incredibly experienced trio of Barbara Mervin, Latoya Blackwood and Jacey Murphy make up the back row with Edmonton Chelsea Guthrie at scrum-half and Emily Belchos, who started the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup final against England, at fly-half. Rajotte is joined by Brittany Waters on the wing while Andrea Burk and Alex Tessier start in centre. Veteran Julianne Zussman gets the nod at fullback.

There’s the potential for five other players to make their test debuts as Demi Stamatakis, Fabiola Forteza, Katie Svoboda, Brianna Miller and Anais Holly are named to the bench.

Last year, Canada narrowly lost 15-14 to England as part of the Women’s Rugby Super Series in Alberta. Of course, England defeated Canada 21-9 in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup final, while tying 13-13 in the pool stages, and holds a 20-2-1 edge over Canada.

“What we know is they have finished second in the Six Nations this year,” Ratier said. “England are the World Champions so we know it will be tough.”

Friday’s game kicks off at 5pm ET/2pm PT and can be seen LIVE on . The first 30 days of the subscription are free.

Canada’s Roster versus England (Name, club, hometown):


1. Carolyn McEwen, (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC

2. Mary-Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON

3. DaLeaka Menin, (Hornets) Vulcan, AB

4. Laura Russell, Captain (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON

5. Kayla Mack, (Wild Oats) Saskatoon, SK

6. Barbara Mervin, (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON

7. Latoya Blackwood, (St. Anne de Bellevue/Toulouse) Montreal, QC

8. Jacey Murphy, (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON

9. Chelsea Guthrie, (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB

10. Emily Belchos, (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON

11. Frédérique Rajotte, (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC

12. Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC

13. Alex Tessier, (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB

14. Brittany Waters, (Castaway Wanderers) Vancouver, BC

15. Julianne Zussman, (Castaway Wanderers) Montreal, QC

16. Demi Stamatakis, (SFU) Vancouver, BC

17. Olivia DeMerchant, (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB

18. Tyson Beukeboom, (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON

19. Fabiola Forteza, (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC

20. Katie Svoboda, (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON

21. Brianna Miller, (SABRFC), Pointe-Claire, QC

22. Anais Holly, (TMRRFC) Montreal, QC

23. Katie McNally, (Castaway Wanderers) Guelph, ON

Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Staff:

Francois Ratier- Head Coach

Colette McAuley- Rugby Canada Development Coach

Shaun Allen- Assistant Coach

Gary Dukelow- Scrum Coach

Nicole Crowley- Tour Manager

Nicole Ainsworth- Therapist

Jaimie McCartney- Strength and Conditioning

Joshua Clayton- Analyst


Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Schedule:
Canada vs. England — July 1, 5pm ET/2pm PT
Canada vs. USA — July 5, 7pm ET/4pm PT
Canada vs. France — July 9, 3pm ET/12pm PT