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Captain Kelly Russell to win 50th cap against Wales on Sunday

Bryan Kelly

After an impressive win over Hong Kong on the opening day of the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) in Ireland, Canadian Women’s Team head coach Francois Ratier is staying with nearly the same starting lineup, making only one change, for Canada’s contest against Wales Sunday.

With a 98-0 victory already in their back pocket, Ratier’s only alteration sees Julianne Zussman return to the starting unit at fullback, with Elissa Alarie moving to the wing, where she will replace Frederique Rajotte.

Zussman brings a wealth of experience to the field, as the Montreal product is the second-most capped player on the Canadian roster, trailing only captain Kelly Russell who’s set to hit her own milestone tomorrow by eclipsing the 50 cap mark. The veteran fullback is set to earn her 40th cap and enters the game second only to Magali Harvey amongst the team’s all-time leading try-scorers. Russell only trails Maria Gallo and Gillian Florence in caps. 

With the aforementioned trio of Zussman, Harvey and Alarie, the Canadians back three will once again be a dangerous outfit – one that accounted for seven of Canada’s 16 tries against Hong Kong. Harvey had 41 points in the competition-opener, including five tries, and enters Sunday’s game atop the WRWC leaderboard for both points and tries.

In the Canadian pack, Francois will avoid any tinkering, with Carolyn McEwen, Laura Russell and DaLeaka Menin getting the call in the front row, while Kayla Mack and Latoya Blackwood return in the second row.

The back row will once again feature Jacey Grusnick, Karen Paquin and Russell.

After making her World Cup debut against Hong Kong, scrumhalf Lori Josephson will get the call again and will be joined by Emily Belchos at flyhalf. Veteran Andrea Burk and youngster Alex Tessier will once again control the centre positions.

Canada, who are third in the World Rugby rankings, will look to build on the momentum generated from an historic win over Hong Kong in which the Canadians set a program record for most points scored in a match in the WRWC.

This will be the third time Canada and Wales, who are currently 10th in the World Rugby rankings, have met in the WRWC. The two sides previously met in 1991, when they played to a 9-9 draw and in 1994, when Wales edged Canada 11-5. Both games were also in pool play.

Canada enters Sunday’s match tied with New Zealand atop Pool A, with both teams having collected the full five points in their first outings.

Kick-off is set for 12:00 pm ET/9:00 am PT on Sunday and you can watch live on TSN/RDS.

What Andrea Burk said:

“Against Hong Kong we played one through 15 as a team and, we talk about how we don’t have subs, we have starters and finishers, and everybody on the pitch wearing the Canadian jersey got the job done.

“Right now we’re packaging every game in a three-day cycle; now that Hong Kong is done we have three days to focus on Wales and that’s exactly what we’re focusing on. It worked in 2014 and it’s been a part of our process over the last few years and it’s exactly what we’re doing in Ireland.

“Wales will definitely provide a stronger opposition than Hong Kong; we’re expecting them to be a lot more fierce & harder in the breakdown, which Hong Kong exposed against us in the first game and we’re making ourselves accountable.

What Tyson Beukeboom said:

“I think the intensity we brought to the game against Hong Kong was a key part of what we wanted to do. In the past, we’ve been known to start off slow in the opening 20 minutes and start on the back foot, so we corrected that against Hong Kong.

“Leading into the Wales game I think it was important for us to take care of a few technical items around the contact area and we’ve done that today at training. It’s in our heads now and we’re going to fix that for game two and be ready to face Wales on Sunday.”

Canada’s Roster to face Wales:

1. Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby Lake RFC (Vancouver, BC)

2. Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)

3. DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)

4. Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK)

5. Latoya Blackwood, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC)

6. Jacey Grusnick, Barrhaven Scottish (Alliston, ON)

7. Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers (Quebec City, QC)

8. Kelly Russell, Captain, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)

9. Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON)

10. Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC (Innisfil, ON)

11. Elissa Alarie, Vice Captain, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, QC)

12. Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)

13. Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC)

14. Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec (Quebec City, QC)

15. Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers (Montreal, QC)

16. Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club (Brampton, ON)

17. Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats (Guelph, ON)

18. Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)

19. Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC (Uxbridge, ON)

20. Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)

21. Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids (Edmonton, AB)

22. Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB)

23. Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)

2017 WRWC Staff:

Francois Ratier- Head Coach

Shaun Allen- Assistant Coach

Gary Dukelow – Assistant Coach

Colette McAuley- Technical Support

Nicole Crowley- Manager

Shannon Houston – Team Doctor

Brad Curry – Physiotherapist

Jamie McCartney – Strength & Conditioning

Nicole Ainsworth- Athletic Therapist

James Kent- Analyst

Bryan Kelly – Media Manager

Meaghan Howat – Director

Canada’s 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Schedule:

Canada 98 Hong Kong 0 – Billings Park

Canada vs. Wales – Aug 13 – 12pm ET/9am PT – Billings Park

Canada vs. New Zealand – Aug 17 – 7am ET/4am PT – Billings Park

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