Canada Women’s Team head coach Francois Ratier has made four changes to his starting lineup for his team’s fifth place semifinal matchup with Wales Tuesday at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup (WRWC) in Ireland.
Coming off a disappointing loss to New Zealand that ended Canada’s World Cup title dreams, Ratier has inserted four different players into the starting lineup and made one alteration amongst positions as the team prepares for Wales.
After a consistent forward unit for the first three matches of the WRWC, both Olivia DeMerchant and Cindy Nelles will get the call to start on Tuesday, with DeMerchant replacing DaLeaka Menin in the front row and Nelles taking Kayla Mack’s position in the second row.
The back line will see Brittany Waters get her first start of this year’s competition at centre, replacing Alex Tessier, while Frederique Rajotte will take the place of star winger Magali Harvey, who is unavailable for selection due to injury but likely to return for the final match on the 26th. Rajotte is back in the starting lineup after opening the tournament as a starting winger against Hong Kong.
Ratier will also flip-flop Julianne Zussman and Elissa Alarie, with Zussman starting at fullback and Alarie moving to the wing. The move sees both players return to the starting positions they held when Canada faced Wales in pool play.
This will be the second time these two teams have seen each other in the last 10 days. In their pool play meeting, Canada, who is ranked No. 3 in the World Rugby rankings, knocked off the Welsh 15-0 to earn their first ever WRWC victory over Wales, who is currently ranked No. 9. The winner of Tuesday’s semifinal will play in the fifth-place game against the winner of the other semifinal between Australia and Ireland.
This is just the second time in the last six WRWC competitions that Canada has missed the Cup semifinals. The last time Canada was in the fifth-place semifinal at the WRWC was in 2010 when they faced Scotland. Canada advanced to the fifth-place final with a 41-0 win but eventually finished sixth overall after a 23-20 loss to the USA.
Canada has never finished lower than sixth at the WRWC, coming in sixth in 1994 and fifth in 1991. In the years that Canada earned a semifinal berth, they finished second in 2014 and fourth in 1998, 2002 and 2006.
Canada and Wales have met four times in the WRWC. Prior to their contest in this year’s tournament, the two sides previously met in 1991, when they played to a 9-9 draw, and in 1994, when Wales edged Canada 11-5. All three of their previous meetings were in pool play.
Kick-off between Canada and Wales is set for 12pm ET/9am PT on Tuesday and you can watch live on TSN/RDS.
What Julianne Zussman said:
“I think it’s really important that we don’t let one loss in the tournament keep us down. It’s a tough format and it’s really unforgiving. Essentially, we want to prove that we deserve to be in the top four.
“We’re expecting a really physical Wales side. They were dominant in the breakdown and were more physical than we were and we didn’t respond in that first game. We’re looking to right that wrong and also to share the load a little bit more between our backs and our forwards and just attack them.”
What Assistant Coach Gary Dukelow said:
“I feel that we have to wake up and remember what this game is all about. It’s a physical game and I think we’ve been a bit too tentative and we can’t be anymore. The two words we’ve been using in our sessions are ‘next’ and ‘connect.’ We have to let the past go and do the best we can with what we have right now. Physicality is at the heart of our game and it will come back against Wales. We can’t be fancy at this point.
“What we do is what we leave for the next group. We recognize that these are important games for ourselves, but bigger than ourselves is Canadian rugby and certainly the women’s program.”
Canada’s Roster to face Wales:
1. Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby Lake RFC (Vancouver, BC)
2. Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)
3. Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)
4. Cindy Nelles, Belleville Bulldogs (Belleville, ON)
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. Frederique Rajotte, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC (Montreal, QC)
12. Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB)
13. Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)
14. Elissa Alarie, Vice Captain, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, 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. DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)
19. Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK)
20. Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)
21. Brianna Miller, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Pointe-Claire, QC)
22. Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
23. Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC)
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
Nicole Ainsworth- Athletic Therapist
James Kent- Analyst
Bryan Kelly – Media Manager
Canada’s 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup Schedule:
Canada 98 Hong Kong 0 – Billings Park
Canada 15 Wales 0 – Billings Park
Canada 5 New Zealand 48 – Billings Park
5th Place Semifinal
Canada vs. Wales – Aug 22 – 12pm ET/9am PT – Queen’s University (Belfast)
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. Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens Team also made history in 2016, capturing the first-ever Bronze Medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
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 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, the 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.