Bryan Kelly, Rugby Canada
A first half blitz saw Canada’s Women’s Fifteens Team run away to a 52-17 win over England in the opening match of the 2016 Women’s Rugby Super Series in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Canada scored seven tries, five of which came in the first half, as Julianne Zussman (2), Mary-Jane Kirby, Emily Belchos, Chelsea Guthrie, Barbara Mervin and Katie McNally all scored.
“It’s a really strong start to our campaign,” Interim Head Coach Shaun Allen said. “Our group is really happy to put in this performance on Canada Day. It was great to go out, score points, defend well, and we can now really build for the rest of the tournament.”
Canada came flying out of the gates in what was one of the most dominant first half performances in Canadian rugby history as they put 39 unanswered points on second ranked, and defending World Cup champions, England.
“I think we had really good spacing and really good work from our tight to five clear rucks, maintain possession and then our backs did a really quality job when they found space,” Allen said.
Belchos, who returned to Canada’s senior women’s team for the first time in almost two years, set the tone early as she split the England back line to find Alex Tessier who would offload to Guthrie to grab her first career test try in just the third minute. After an Andrea Burk penalty pushed the lead to 10-0, Barbara Mervin would get Canada’s second test try as she was the beneficiary of debutant Frédérique Rajotte’s break to push Canada ahead 17-0.
After Guthrie was held up under the posts, Canada wouldn’t have to wait long to grab their third try as Kirby would power over after a 5-meter scrum in the 23rd minute. Canada had its fourth try inside the half hour mark as Belchos touched down after some swift ball movement from Canada as they led 29-0 after 30 minutes.
England’s Harriet Millar-Mills would see yellow in the 34th minute and Canada capitalized once more before the break with Zussman scoring her first try of the day after Tessier had left the English backline in her rear view mirror with an outstanding break, giving Canada a well-deserved 39-0 half time lead.
Canada showed no signs of slowing down in the second half as Zussman danced her way through the England line before accelerating past the last defender to give Canada a 44-0 lead just four minutes into the second half as Canada continued to use quick ball movement to exploit the English defence.
England would reply through tries from Katie Wilson, Millie Wood and Bianca Blackburn while Burk tacked on another penalty before McNally got her name on the score sheet when she snagged her first test try with a few minutes left to seal a 52-17 win for Canada.
The victory marks just the third time Canada has beaten England in 24 meetings. All matches in the Women’s Rugby Super Series count towards the official World Rugby Women’s Rankings where Canada are currently ranked fifth. Before the tournament, Allen took the temporary role of head coach after Francois Ratier had to leave the team for personal reasons.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” captain Laura Russell said. “Everyone did their job. We had a great start to the tournament. It sets the tone for the rest of the way but to start on this note allows us to keep building from here.”
Frédérique Rajotte, Demi Stamatakis, Fabiola Forteza, Katie Svoboda, Brianna Miller and Anais Holly all made their test debuts for Canada in today’s win with Rajotte starting on the wing and the five others coming on as replacements in the second half.
Canada returns to action on Tuesday when they face hosts USA at 7pm ET/4pm PT LIVE on www.therugbychannel.tv. A subscription is required but the first 30 days are free.
“We’re so excited to start this tournament with a win,” Player of the Match Jacey Murphy said. “We all came into this game with specific goals for our units. We’ve still got two more big games left but we’re excited.”
Canada’s Roster versus England (Name, club, hometown):
- Carolyn McEwen, (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC
- Mary-Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
- DaLeaka Menin, (Hornets) Vulcan, AB
- Laura Russell, Captain(Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
- Kayla Mack, (Wild Oats) Saskatoon, SK
- Barbara Mervin, (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON
- Latoya Blackwood, (St. Anne de Bellevue/Toulouse) Montreal, QC
- Jacey Murphy, (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
- Chelsea Guthrie, (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB
- Emily Belchos, (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON
- Frédérique Rajotte, (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC
- Andrea Burk, (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
- Alex Tessier, (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB
- Brittany Waters, (Castaway Wanderers) Vancouver, BC
- Julianne Zussman, (Castaway Wanderers) Montreal, QC
- Demi Stamatakis, (SFU) Vancouver, BC
- Olivia DeMerchant, (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
- Tyson Beukeboom, (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON
- Fabiola Forteza, (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
- Katie Svoboda, (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON
- Brianna Miller, (SABRFC), Pointe-Claire, QC
- Anais Holly, (TMRRFC) Montreal, QC
- Katie McNally, (Castaway Wanderers) Guelph, ON
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Staff:
Francois Ratier- Head Coach
Colette McAuley- Rugby Canada Development Coach
Shaun Allen- Assistant Coach
Gary Dukelow- Scrum Coach
Nicole Crowley- Tour Manager
Nicole Ainsworth- Therapist
Jaimie McCartney- Strength and Conditioning
Joshua Clayton- Analyst
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Schedule:
Canada vs. England — July 1, 5pm ET/2pm PT
Canada vs. USA — July 5, 7pm ET/4pm PT
Canada vs. France — July 9, 3pm ET/12pm PT
About Rugby Canada
Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of rugby union in Canada. Rugby Football has a long history in Canada dating back to its initial appearance in the 1860s. Since 1974, Rugby Canada has been a permanent fixture on the global rugby scene, including trips to each of the eight Men’s Rugby World Cups and seven Women’s Rugby World Cups. As a regular on the Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Canada continues to climb the world rankings and challenge the dominant rugby nations in both versions of the game.
To support the growth of rugby at the grass-roots level and to ensure there are elite programs for prospering young rugby players to become involved with, Rugby Canada has put an emphasis on developing its junior programs. Our goal is to develop and train competitive teams for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Tokyo, Japan respectively, the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens in USA and 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.