Coach Tait tries new roster for first-ever Canada Sevens
For the fourth time this season, women’s rugby sevens head coach John Tait has a new line-up for a series event.
This time the 12 players selected will have the honour of playing a series tournament in Canada, for the very first time. Canada Sevens is April 18-19 in Langford, BC.
“It made selection quite difficult as quite a few players are setting new standards for themselves and it would be great to be able to reward them all with a series selection,” said Tait on the Rugby Canada website. “In the end we went with the 12 we believe will give us an opportunity to win in Langford as well as grow our depth of experienced players.”
The 12 players named are: Elissa Alarie, Britt Benn, Bianca Farella, Ghislaine Landry, Kayla Moleschi, Karen Paquin, Kelly Russell, Ashley Steacy, and Natasha Watcham-Roy as the top nine. Youth Olympian Hannah Darling and 21-year-old Nadia Popov make the roster for their second series event, and Pickering’s Sara Kaljuvee returns from injury.
Captain Jen Kish is out due to an injury suffered in Atlanta, at last month’s series stop. Lethbridge veteran Ashley Steacy will wear the “C” in Kish’s stead.
Team Canada was third in Atlanta, a placing they’ve managed at all three stops on the six-event series. Langford is another important step to secure one of the top-four Olympic qualifying spots handed out at season’s end. Right now the Canadians are tied with Australia for second, with 48 points. New Zealand is 12 points ahead, while France and the USA sit fourth and fifth.
Tait choice of which three players join the mainstays has been varied this season. “I demand consistency from players and so I need to be consistent in what I am doing as well and that applies to selections. I base them always on form and selecting those who will give us the best chance to win both now and in Rio next year. We will continue to look for players and try new combinations until we are winning cups consistently. We are not here for, or happy with finishing third, we want that medal to be gold,” says Tait.
It is a definitive statement from a head coach committed to building depth, while targeting the top step on the podium. Based on series results, the women’s sevens team is one of Canada’s best opportunities for a team medal in Rio. Yet, they have to qualify first, and a strong Langford result will do a great deal to help.
Team Canada begins on Saturday, with pool matches against Russia, South Africa, then the USA. The results of those games will define how Sunday unfolds for the Canadians. You can watch coverage on TSN, both Saturday and Sunday.