Kayla Moleschi Photo credit Paige Stewart
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens Olympic team will be playing for a medal in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro after advancing to the semifinals in rugby sevens following a 15-5 win over France in the quarterfinals. Canada will face Australia in the semifinals, the top ranked team in the world.
After coming away with two victories on day one action at Deodoro stadium in Rio, Canada dropped their final pool match on Sunday, a 22-0 loss to Great Britain. The loss meant Canada finished second in Pool C, setting up the quarterfinal tilt with France later on Sunday.
The win over France was a bit of redemption for Canada, who last played the French side at the Langford Sevens in April, losing in the cup quarterfinals in the dying seconds in front of their home crowd. Canada opened the tournament with two impressive wins on Friday against Japan and Brazil in which they outscored their opponents 83-0.
What Head Coach John Tait said:
“This morning is tough to say, I haven’t seen us play like that, make that many drops since probably the final back in Brazil against Australia (in February). When you’re chasing a game against a quality side like we were this morning against Great Britain, you start throwing 50-50 passes and those turn into tries as well. Tonight I think was a bit of nerves from the way we played against Great Britain, the girls were a bit anxious about that. I was really pleased again that even though we went down 5-0, they responded and really kept the ball and looked after it well and punched in a couple tries to respond.”
“We get Australia in the semifinal. Obviously another familiar opponent. We just can’t afford to make turnovers like we did in the two games today. They’ll punish any team for that many turnovers. It will come down to our possession against them and really challenging them through the middle…we’ll see what mismatches we can create on the outside.”
“We’ve earned a real great opportunity and Australia is going to be a tough team but our girls are confident that if we look after the ball and play the way we can, we can beat Australia.”
What Captain Jen Kish said:
“Day one we gelled really well but you’re not playing the top teams in the world so you’re going to look like you really preformed. Day two, as you can see, we made too many errors. Great Britain got the win over us. France is a good quality side, we made some mistakes and they capitalized on that. But, we didn’t give up. We kept fighting. We brushed it off and as you can see we walked away with the win today so I’m very excited and very proud of these girls.”
“Our dream is getting more real. We want to be in that gold medal match. That’s why we’re here. But, if we walk away with a medal we’re still going to be happy. The medal is just icing on the cake. We’re here to perform, we’re here to show the world that Canadian rugby is a contender in this sport and I really hope that the fans see that.”
CANADA 0-22 GREAT BRITAIN
With top spot in the group up for grabs, Great Britain put in a strong performance to beat a Canadian side that battled mistakes throughout the match. After beating Japan 45-0 and Brazil 38-0 on day one of pool play, Canada looked like a different side on Sunday morning; dropping balls, missing tackles, turning the ball over at an unusual rate.
While both teams looked nervous in the opening minutes, it was Great Britain who finally touched down with the first try of the match almost four minutes in.
With Canada pressing for an equalizer in the closing seconds of the half, it was Great Britain causing a turnover near their tryline and going the length of the pitch to make it a 10-0 halftime deficit for the Canadians. Great Britain would add two more tries in the second half to make it 22-0 as they claimed first place in Pool C.
CANADA 15-5 FRANCE
Canada advanced to the rugby sevens semifinals with a hard fought 15-5 win over France. The Canadians were coming off a disappointing loss to Great Britain earlier in the day, where they looked out of sorts in dropping their final match of pool play.
After both teams traded possession in the first few minutes of play, it was France who struck first, jumping out to a 5-0 lead three minutes in. Kayla Moleschi answered for Canada, picking the ball up from the back of a scrum, faking out a French defender then using her speed to go the rest of the way as the teams headed into half tied 5-5.
Canada came out of the halftime huddle looking like a more confident team and played as such for the remaining seven minutes. They controlled ball possession while continuously preventing any offensive attack from France.
Under relentless pressure, the French defensive line finally cracked with 90 seconds to play, as Bianca Farella scored a try to give Canada a 10-5 lead. Ghislaine Landry added some insurance just as the hooter was sounding and Canada were off to the semifinals with a 10-point win.
Canada’s Roster for the 2016 Rio Olympics (Name, club, hometown):
Britt Benn – (Guelph Redcoats) Napanee, ON
Hannah Darling – (Peterborough Pagans) Warsaw, ON
Bianca Farella – (Town of Mont Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
Jen Kish – (Edmonton Rockers) Edmonton, AB
Ghislaine Landry – (Toronto Scottish) Toronto, ON
Megan Lukan – (Unattached) Barrie, ON
Kayla Moleschi – (Williams Lake Rustlers) Williams Lake, BC
Karen Paquin – (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Kelly Russell – (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Ashley Steacy – (Lethbridge Rugby Club), Lethbridge, AB
Natasha Watcham-Roy – (Hull Volant) Gatineau, QC
Charity Williams – (Markham Irish) Toronto, ON
Canada’s Coaching Staff:
Meaghan Howat – Manager
John Tait – Head Coach
Sandro Fiorino – Assistant Coach
Sandeep Nandhra – Athletic Therapist
Matt Tyler – Athletic Therapist
Tyler Goodale – Strength & Conditioning
Callum Morris – Analyst
Kirsten Barnes – Mental Performance Coach
Canada’s 2016 Rio Olympics Schedule:
Day 1 – August 6
Canada 45-0 Japan
Canada 38-0 Brazil
Day 2 – August 7
Canada 22-0 Great Britain
Canada 15-5 France (Quarterfinals)
Day 3 – August 8
Canada vs Australia (Semifinals) – 1:30 pm ET / 10:30 am PT