DUBLIN, IRELAND — Canada’s senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier has kept the same starting XV for Wednesday’stitanic clash with the New Zealand Black Ferns. After beating Ireland 48-7 Saturday, Canada moved back to No. 2 in the World Rugby rankings making Wednesday’s game a pivotal first vs. second matchup.
“We know they’re strong and that they’re No. 1 in the world,” Ratier said. “We have to sit down and see where they have some weaknesses but they don’t have too many.”
Carolyn McEwen, Laura Russell and DaLeaka Menin will again lead Canada up front while Kayla Mack and Latoya Blackwood start at lock. Jacey Grusnick and Karen Paquin start at flanker with captain Kelly Russell at No. 8.
Chelsea Guthrie starts at scrum-half with Emily Belchos at fly-half. Elissa Alarie and Magali Harvey are on the wings while Andrea Burk and Alex Tessier start at centre. Julianne Zussman is at fullback. Canada ran in seven tries against No .5 ranked Ireland as Zussman (2), Menin, Paquin, Belchos, Harvey and Laura Russell all touched down while Burk kicked 13 points.
Canada and New Zealand were recently drawn into the same pool for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland. In 11 previous meetings, Canada has never beaten New Zealand. The Black Ferns defeated reigning World Cup champions England 25-20 on Saturday in the first game of their tour.
“They’re in our pool for the World Cup next year so we want to send them a message,” Blackwood said. “We’re going to put up a fight and show them what Canadian rugby looks like.”
Wednesday’s game will kick off at 8am ET/5am PT and can be seen LIVE by clicking here. Canada wraps up its November Tour on Saturday when they face England at Twickenham.