Canada Names Women's Team for Dubai December 1-2: Jen Kish Out, Landry to Captain
Langford, BC – Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team Head Coach John Tait has named his roster for the upcoming Dubai Sevens, which kicks off next Thursday in Dubai, UAE to open the 2016-17 HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.
This will be the first event for the team since claiming a Bronze medal at the Olympics this past summer and marks the beginning of a new four-year cycle in the lead up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
While many familiar faces will be in Dubai there is no doubt Canada is currently in a transition period, balancing the loss of veteran leadership with the influx of youth into the program.
Gone from the sevens program are Karen Paquin and Kelly Russell, two mainstays on Tait’s roster over the last four years. Joining them with the fifteens program were Elissa Alarie and Magali Harvey, two highly skilled attackers.
However, the well hasn’t dried up for Tait.
He will be bringing twelve players with Women’s Sevens World Series experience to Dubai including nine athletes who won Bronze in Rio. Britt Benn, Hannah Darling, Bianca Farella, Ghislaine Landry, Megan Lukan, Kayla Moleschi, Ashley Steacy, Natasha Watcham-Roy and Charity Williams have all gotten over the Olympic hangover and will be in Dubai. Julia Greenshields, Sara Kaljuvee and Breanne Nicholas round out the roster.
“The big goal for us this first year of the new quad is to build upon the depth we have to ensure we can continue to compete long term with the other top teams,” said Tait. “We have had some turnover from Rio but have been grooming the younger squad members to be ready to now step up into those roster spots. We need to use the series this season to develop them under the pressure it provides and put us in a good position to contest for another World Cup at the end of next season and of course beyond to Tokyo 2020.”
Tait’s team has never finished below third in the series standings and even with one eye on the future, the team is still hoping for immediate success this season.
“I am pretty confident we will remain competitive this season and stay in the top four with the returning players and the leadership in the group we have retained,” said Tait.
One of the leaders they will be without in Dubai is former captain Jen Kish.
While there was some doubt that one the best sevens players in the world would return to Canada’s sevens program after the Olympics, Kish did. Unfortunately, she re-aggravated an injury from last season in training and although she was keen to play in Dubai, Tait and the coaching staff decided it would be best for her long-term health to sit out the first event of the season.
Landry, Canada’s all-time leading scorer, will captain the team in Dubai and for the rest of the season while Tait looks to lean on a couple of new players for more leadership.
“Kayla Moleschi and Bianca Farella now have an opportunity to grow their roles in the team as leaders and are coming off great seasons and Olympic performances,” sad Tait. “Ghislaine will have their support, as vice captains, in her new role as team captain.”
Canada will open the Dubai Sevens with matches against Brazil and Spain before completing day one action against England, with top spot in the pool most likely on the line.
Dubai hasn’t been kind to the Canadians in years past, who have finished sixth, third, fourth and sixth the last four seasons at the event.
“At the start of the new quad we want to of course get off on the right foot and be competitive and always have the expectation we can compete for the cup, but in the big picture Dubai is an opportunity to gauge where we are now in regards to where we will likely need to be to contest for the World Cup in two years’ time.”
The good thing for Tait is Canada isn’t the only team transitioning from past to present.
“Definitely expecting some turnover in other teams and with that it will mean new faces and skillsets to analyze as the season goes on,” said Tait. “Our focus in Dubai will be primarily inwards as we want to try some new wrinkles and enjoy playing without the pressure we had on us all last season with Rio on the calendar.
“The team going is as fast and as skilled as we have ever fielded previously, along with the ability to potentially play in different positions more so than what we have had in the past. So that will hopefully give other teams real challenges in matching up with us as we develop and improve our tactics throughout this season.”
Canada’s Roster for Dubai Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Britt Benn – Guelph Redcoats (Napanee, ON)
Hannah Darling – Peterborough Pagans (Warsaw, ON)
Bianca Farella – Town of Mont Royal (Montreal, QC)
Julia Greenshields – Sarnia Saints (Sarnia, ON)
Sara Kaljuvee – Toronto Scottish (Ajax, ON)
Ghislaine Landry – Toronto Scottish (Toronto, ON)
Megan Lukan – Unattached (Barrie, ON)
Kayla Moleschi - Williams Lake Rustlers (Williams Lake, BC)
Breanne Nicholas – London St. Georges (Blenheim, 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
Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach
Canada’s Dubai Sevens Schedule:
Day 1 – December 1
Canada vs Brazil at 3:22 am ET / 12:22 am PT
Canada vs Spain at 6:18 am ET / 3:18 am PT
Canada vs England at 9:15 am ET / 6:15 am PT
Day 2 – December 2