Canada women's rugby team returns to action after fourth-place finish at World Cup

Captain Sophie de Goede and hooker Emily Tuttosi, both named to World Rugby's 15s Dream Team of the Year in 2022, will lead Canada in test matches against South Africa and the United States.

The games in Spain are the first for the Canadian women since their fourth-place finish at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in November.

The fourth-ranked Canadians face No. 13 South Africa on March 25 before opening the Pacific Four Series against the seventh-ranked U.S. on April 1. Both matches will be played at Estadio Nacional de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Canada, No. 2 New Zealand, No. 6 Australia and the U.S. are contesting the third edition of the Pacific Four Series.

Australia will host New Zealand in June with all four teams converging on Canada in July for the final matches of the series. The top three teams will qualify for the inaugural WXV, a new three-tier annual global women’s international 15s competition, while the bottom team will move on to the WXV second tier.

Canada has won its last seven outings against the U.S., a streak that dates back to July 2019 and includes a pair of wins at the recent World Cup (29-14 in group play and 32-11 in the quarterfinals).

Canada last faced South Africa in the 2013 Nations Cup, winning 53-15.

Canada coach Kevin Rouet has summoned 19 members of his World Cup squad, including veteran Tyson Beukeboom, who looks to add to her 56 caps.

There are seven uncapped players on the tour roster: Audrey Champagne, Cassandra Tuffnail, Fancy Bermudez, Holly Phillips, Justine Blatt-Janmaat, Mahalia Robinson and Zoe Williams.

Bermudez joins fellow sevens players Pamphinette Buisa and Renee Gonzalez on the roster.

"We are excited to be starting a new Rugby World Cup cycle and opening the 2023 season with these games against South Africa and the United States,” Rouet said in a statement. "Our players and staff are eager to regroup and build upon our great performance from the fall in New Zealand."

The Canadian women pushed top-ranked England to the limit in a 26-19 semifinal loss at the World Cup before falling 36-0 to third-ranked France in the bronze-medal game.

Canada Women's Rugby Tour Roster (with hometown and club affiliation)

Alexandra Tessier, Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, Que., Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC; Alexandria Ellis, Ottawa, Barrhaven Scottish/Saracens; Audrey Champagne, Quebec City, Club de rugby de Quebec/Universite Laval; Brittany Kassil, Guelph, Ont., Guelph Redcoats RFC; Cassandra Tuffnail, Heidelberg, Ont., Richmond FC/Brunel University London; Courtney Holtkamp, Rimbey, Alta., Red Deer Titans Rugby; DaLeaka Menin, Vulcan, Alta., Exeter Chiefs; Emily Tuttosi, Souris, Man., Calgary Hornets/Exeter Chiefs; Emma Taylor, Scotsburn, N.S., Halifax RFC; Fabiola Forteza, Quebec City, Que., Club de rugby de Quebec/Stade Bordelais; Fancy Bermudez, (Edmonton, NorWester Athletic Association/Westshore RFC; Gillian Boag, Calgary, Capilano RFC; Holly Phillips, Canmore, Alta., Calgary Irish/Bristol Bears; Julia Schell, Uxbridge, Ont., Guelph Redcoats/Castaway Wanderers; Justine Blatt-Janmaat, Wolfville, N.S. Westshore RFC/University of Victoria; Justine Pelletier, Riviere-du-Loup, Que., Club de rugby de Quebec/Stade Bordelais; Laetitia Royer, Loretteville, Que., St-Anne-de-Bellevue/ASM Romagnat; Mahalia Robinson, Fulford, Que., TMRRFC/Concordia Universite; Marie-Pier Fauteux, Sherbrooke, Que., Club de rugby de Quebec/Universite Laval; Maya Montiel, Dieppe, N.B., University of Ottawa/Saracens; Paige Farries, Red Deer, Alta., Westshore RFC/Worcester Warriors; Pamphinette Buisa, Gatineau, Que., Ottawa Irish; Renee Gonzalez, Scarborough, Ont., Westshore RFC/University of Victoria; Sabrina Poulin, St-Georges, Que., TMRRFC/Eibar Rugby Taldea; Sara Kaljuvee, Ajax, Ont., Toronto Scottish/Westshore RFC; Sara Svoboda, Belleville, Ont., Belleville Bulldogs/Loughborough Lightning; Sarah-Maude Lachance, Victoriaville, Que., Club de rugby de Quebec/Lons Section Paloise; Sophie de Goede, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers RFC; Tyson Beukeboom, Uxbridge, Ont., Cowichan RFC; Zoe Williams, Victoria, Westshore RFC/University of Victoria.

Unavailable for selection: Alysha Corrigan, Brianna Miller, Chloe Daniels, Elissa Alarie, Gabi Senft, Karen Paquin, Maddy Grant, McKinley Hunt, Mikiela Nelson, Olivia DeMerchant, Taylor Perry, Veronica Harrigan.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2023.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press