Canada coach Kevin Rouet has named his roster for the new WXV women's 15s rugby tournament, choosing 21 players from the squad that finished fourth at the World Cup last November.
Sophie de Goede will captain the fourth-ranked Canadians who will face No. 1 England, No. 3 France and No. 6 Wales in the six-team elite tier of the WXV that runs Oct. 20 to Nov. 4 in New Zealand.
The Canadians open Oct. 20 (11 p.m. ET in Canada/4 p.m. local time Oct. 21 in New Zealand) against Wales in Wellington before facing England in Dunedin on Oct. 27 and France in Auckland on Nov. 3 (11 p.m. ET in Canada/4 p.m. local time Nov. 4 in New Zealand).
The 30-woman Canada squad features 28 players involved in Canada’s recent 50-24 and 29-12 losses to England in Exeter and London, respectively. The Canadians were reduced to 14 players in the 17th minute of Saturday's 29-12 defeat when flanker Gabrielle Senft was sent off for a high tackle.
The Canadian women had pushed England to the limit before falling 26-19 in the Nov. 5 World Cup semifinal. England then lost 34-31 to host New Zealand in the final while France blanked Canada 36-0 in the bronze-medal game.
The WXV top tier features the top three teams from the Women’s Six Nations (England, France, Wales) and the top three from the Pacific Four Series. The Canadians qualified by finishing runner-up to No. 2 New Zealand in the Pacific Four Series which wrapped up in July in Ottawa. No. 5 Australia was third.
“Over the last year since the Rugby World Cup, we’ve developed good consistency with a strong core group of players," Rouet said in a statement. "There has been a lot of positive growth and development with continued collaboration with our sevens program as well as the Pacific Four Series and the test matches in England.
“Gaining more frequent elite competition experience is very important as we continue to look towards the 2025 Rugby World Cup. We are excited about the opportunity presented to us with WXV and are looking forward to three more great matches against some of the best teams in the world.”
The six-team WXV 1 will use a cross-pool format with no relegation in its first cycle of WXV 1.
The seventh-ranked U.S., No. 8 Italy, No. 9 Scotland, No. 11 Japan, No. 12 South Africa and No. 16 Samoa will take part in WXV 2 in South Africa while No. 10 Ireland, No. 13 Spain, No. 18 Kazakhstan, No. 19 Fiji, No. 23 Kenya and No. 25 Colombia meet in WXV 3 in Dubai.
XMV 2 and 3 both run Oct. 13 to 28.
Magali Harvey, who won her first 15s cap since November 2018 in coming on against England in Exeter, was named among the Canadian non-travelling reserves. The 33-year-old wing from Quebec City, who recently signed with France's Stade Bordelais, was named World Rugby's Women's Player of the Year in 2014.
Alexandria Ellis, Ottawa, Saracens (England); Ashlynn Smith, Abbotsford, B.C., University of Calgary; Brittany Kassil, Guelph, Ont., Guelph Redcoats; Courtney Holtkamp, Rimbey, Alta., Red Deer Titans Rugby; DaLeaka Menin. Vulcan, Alta., Exeter Chiefs (England); Emily Tuttosi, Souris, Man., Exeter Chiefs (England); Fabiola Forteza. Quebec City, Que., Stade Bordelais (France); Gabrielle Senft, Regina, Stade Bordelais (France); Gillian Boag, Calgary, Capilano RFC; Julia Omokhuale, Calgary, University of Calgary; Laetitia Royer, Loretteville, Que., ASM Romagnat (France); McKinley Hunt, King City, Ont., Saracens (England); Mikiela Nelson, North Vancouver, Capilano Rugby; Sara Cline, Edmonton, Leprechaun Tigers; Sara Svoboda, Belleville, Ont., Loughborough Lightning (England); Sophie de Goede (capt.), Victoria, Saracens (England); Tyson Beukeboom, Uxbridge, Ont., Ealing Trailfinders.
Alexandra Tessier, Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, Que., Exeter Chiefs (England); Claire Gallagher, Caledon, Ont., University of Ottawa; Fancy Bermudez, Edmonton, Westshore RFC; Florence Symonds, Hong Kong, University of British Columbia; Julia Schell, Uxbridge, Ont., Castaway Wanderers; Justine Pelletier, Rivière-du-Loup, Que., Stade Bordelais (France); Krissy Scurfield, Canmore, Alta., University of Victoria; Madison Grant, Cornwall, Ont., Cornwall Claymores; Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., Lindsay RFC; Paige Farries, Red Deer, Alta., Worcester Warriors (England); Sabrina Poulin, St-Georges, Que., Eibar Rugby Taldea (Spain); Sarah-Maude Lachance, Victoriaville, Que., Lons Section Paloise (France); Shoshanah Seumanutafa, White Rock, B.C., UBC.
Abby Duguid, Edmonton, University of Lethbridge; Caroline Crossley, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Corinne Fréchette, Saint-Zéphirin-de-Courval, Que., Université Laval; Emma Taylor, Scotsburn, N.S., Saracens (England); Lizzie Gibson, Caledon, Ont., Queen’s University; Magali Harvey, Quebec City, Stade Bordelais (France); Mahalia Robinson, Fulford, Que., Concordia Université; Olivia DeMerchant, Mapledale, N.B., Halifax Tars RFC; Taylor Perry, Oakville, Ont., Oakville Crusaders.
Unavailable For Selection
Brianna Miller, Cassandra Tuffnail, Karen Paquin, Maya Montiel, Pamphinette Buisa, Sara Kaljuvee.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2023
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press