Canadian women wrap up November tour with test match against Wales

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Canada coach Sandro Fiorino has made three personnel and three positional changes to his starting 15 for Sunday's women's rugby test match against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park.

Veronica Harrigan slots in at hooker while Tyson Beukeboom comes in at lock and Justine Pelletier at scrum half. The introduction of Beukeboom moves fellow second-rower Emma Taylor to No. 4 from No. 5. Courtney Holtkamp shifts from lock to blindside flanker, which moves Fabiola Forteza to openside flanker.

Ngalula Fuamba, Marie Thibault and Sarah-Maude Lachance make the bench.

The third-ranked Canadian women are coming off a 51-12 loss to top-ranked England last Sunday in London.

Canada, returning to action for the first time in almost two years, beat the sixth-ranked U.S. 15-9 and 26-13 earlier in the month in Glendale, Colo., to win the inaugural World Rugby Pacific Four Series title.

“I am very proud of how our team has performed since returning to play,” Fiorino said in a statement. “There have been many positives to take away, as well as a number of areas that have been identified for us to work on as we continue to develop as a group. We are all looking forward to this final match.”

No. 11 Wales defeated No. 13 South Africa 29-19 last Saturday and No. 12 Japan 23-5 on Nov. 7..

“Wales have performed well in their two most recent matches,” said Fiorino. “They will provide us with another excellent opportunity to see where we are as a team against quality opposition, and get our players more key game time as we prepare for the World Cup.”

Canada holds a 7-2-2 career record against Wales and won 38-21 when they last met, in November 2018 in Cardiff. The Canadians have won the last four matches against Wales dating back to a 16-11 loss in May 2006 in Cardiff.

Canada played Wales twice at the 2017 World Cup, winning 15-0 in pool play and 52-0 triumph in the fifth-place semifinal.

Canadian veterans Laura Russell, Karen Paquin and Brianna Miller are rested Sunday. Harrigan makes just her second start for Canada — and first at hooker.

Wales coach Ioan Cunningham has made three changes to his starting lineup with prop Caryl Thomas, scrum half Keira Bevan and wing Lisa Neumann returning.

A Canadian loss Sunday, coupled with a win Saturday by No. 4 France over No. 2 New Zealand, would drop Canada to No. 4 in the rankings. Should Canada win, France would have to beat New Zealand by more than 15 points to return to third place for the first time since November 2019.

Canada Roster

Olivia DeMerchant, Mapledale, N.B., Halifax Tars RFC/Exeter Chiefs (England); Veronica Harrigan, Lucan, Ont., Brantford Harlequins; DaLeaka Menin, Vulcan, Alta., Exeter Chiefs (England); Tyson Beukeboom, Uxbridge, Ont., Cowichan RFC; Emma Taylor, Scotsburn, N.S., Halifax Rugby Football Club; Courtney Holtkamp, Rimbey, Alta., Red Deer Titans; Fabiola Forteza — Quebec City, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Stade Bordelais (France); Gabrielle Senft, Regina, Castaway Wanderers/University of Victoria Vikes; Justine Pelletier, Riviere-du-Loup, Que., Club de Rugby de Quebec/Les Lionnes du Stade Bordelais (France); Emily Belchos de Goede, Innisfil, Ont., Westshore RFC; Paige Farries, Red Deer, Alta., Westshore RFC/Worcester Warriors (England); Alex Tessier, Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, Que., Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC; Sara Kaljuvee, Ajax, Ont., Toronto Scottish/University of Victoria Vikes; Sabrina Poulin, St-Georges, Que., Town of Mount Royal Rugby/Stade Rennais (France); Elissa Alarie, Trois-Rivieres, Que., Westshore RFC/ Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Braves de Trois-Rivieres.

Replacements

Emily Tuttosi, Souris, Man., Exeter Chiefs (England); Brittany Kassil, Guelph, Ont., Guelph Redcoats; Alex Ellis, Ottawa, Barrhaven Scottish/Saracens (England); Ngalula Fuamba, Notre-Dame-de-l'Ile-Perrot, Que., Town of Mount Royal Rugby; Pamphinette Buisa, Gatineau, Que., Canada sevens/Ottawa Irish; Marie Thibault, Quebec City, Club de Rugby de Quebec; Sarah-Maude Lachance, Victoriaville, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Lons Section Paloise Rugby Feminin (France); Renee Gonzalez, Toronto, Westshore RFC/University of Victoria Vikes.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2021

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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