Canadian captain Ghislaine Landry retires from rugby 7s after decorated career

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Canada's Ghislaine Landry runs the ball during rugby sevens action against Spain at the HSBC Women's Sevens Series at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., Sunday, April 17, 2016. Canada will begin its hunt for a women's rugby sevens medal against Britain, host Brazil and Japan at the Rio Olympics. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Canada's Ghislaine Landry runs the ball during rugby sevens action against Spain at the HSBC Women's Sevens Series at Westhills Stadium in Langford, B.C., Sunday, April 17, 2016. Canada will begin its hunt for a women's rugby sevens medal against Britain, host Brazil and Japan at the Rio Olympics. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Canadian Ghislaine Landry, the powerful captain of the women's rugby sevens team, announced on Thursday her retirement from the sport.

The prolific 33-year-old is the all-time leading point scorer in World Rugby Sevens Series with 1,356 career points. She is third in all-time in tries (143), second all-time in conversions (319) and tied for third all-time in matches played (208.)

Landry retires as a World Cup silver medallist, Pan American gold medallist and Olympic bronze medallist.

"They say you are a visitor in the jersey, and I'm proud to share this journey has come to an end. It has been an honour and a privilege to have played the game for so many years. As a kid stepping on to the rugby field for the first time, I never could have imagined what would transpire over the next 20 years and I am deeply grateful," Landry wrote on Twitter.

The Canadian — born in Toronto, now a Victoria, B.C., resident — made her debut with the senior team in 2011.

Landry established herself as a dominant scorer at the 2013 world cup, where Canada earned silver and the athlete finished second in scoring.

She was the second-leading scorer on the Canadian squad during the team's golden run at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto with 47 points on five tries and 11 of 21 conversions.

"For over a decade, Ghislaine Landry has been at the forefront of Women's Sevens Rugby across the globe," wrote Rugby Canada on Twitter.

"Inspiring countless young women to pick up a rugby ball, it is bittersweet to say farewell as she moves onto the next adventure of her life."

WATCH | Canada's Landry on her rugby 7s passion:

When rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio, Landry helped the Canadian team claim the first-ever bronze by being Canada's leading scorer and the second-top scorer in the tournament with 41 points (five tries, eight conversions.)

The captain was nominated for the World Rugby Women's Sevens Player of the Year in 2017.

She was also the team's leading scorer during Tokyo 2020 with 37 points on three tries and 11 conversions.

Kevin Light/CBC
Kevin Light/CBC

"Absolute legend," New Zealand's Tyla Nathan-Wong, who is second in scoring with 1,106 points, said in a social media post. "Congrats on an epic career. Enjoy the next chapter and parenthood. The game will definitely miss you."

Landry has led the women's team ever since 2018, when Jen Kish ceded her captaincy ahead of her own retirement. That same year, Canada earned 4th-place at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

During her playing career, Landry was largely based on Vancouver Island — a long way from home and loved ones.

"With our family growing and all the time I've been away from them, I'm just really looking forward to spending time more time at home," she said in an interview. "It feels like the right time."

Her focus, understandably, is on her daughter.

"She's been a pretty life-changing addition for us," she said. "We're just enjoying every day."

Landry is the latest high-profile Canadian sevens player to leave the sport in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics. Men's co-captains Nate Hirayama and Harry Jones as well as Justin Douglas, Connor Braid and Conor Trainor have retired in recent months.

Landry has not played since the Canadian women finished a disappointing ninth in Tokyo. The leadup to the games was disrupted by a COVID outbreak among the team and a split with coach John Tait in the wake of a formal complaint by 37 current and former members of the program under Rugby Canada's bullying and harassment policy.

An independent review concluded that while the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not fall within Rugby Canada's policy's definition of harassment or bullying.

Tait, while maintaining he had done nothing wrong, subsequently stepped down. Tait a former Canadian international who was one of Rugby Canada's most successful coaches, is now technical director of B.C. Rugby.

Confident in team's future

Landry took to social media after the Tokyo performance.

"We always knew this was about more than rugby, about more than one tournament, even if it's the Olympics," she said. "We knew the last nine months might put our Olympic dream in jeopardy, we had that discussion as a group, and still the decision was clear. We were ready to put our dreams at risk for change.

"This has not been a distraction but it has taken a toll on us. And so, while we are heartbroken not to have been able to play our best, we are proud and united."

Landry says she believes that good will come out of the turmoil in Rugby Canada, which is currently reviewing all of its high-performance programs.

"I am confident that positives are going to come from all of this," she said. "Everyone's taking a good hard look at every aspect of the program. It's not just our program but overall. And I think that's something that can have a lot of positives.

"Obviously I don't think any of us wished for any of this to happen, or to have gone the way it has. But any time people take a step back and re-evaluate what we're doing and why we're doing it and is there a better way to do it, I think you're going to have positives come from that."

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