The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Canada makes two changes to starting lineup for Women's Rugby World Cup final

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PARIS - The Canadian women's rugby team will make two changes to its starting lineup for Sunday's championship game against England at the Women's Rugby World Cup.

Elissa Alarie of Trois-Rivieres, Que., will move to scrum half for the injured Stephanie Bernier of Quebec City, and Jessica Dovanne of Victoria replaces Brittany Waters of Vancouver on the left wing, Rugby Canada said Saturday in a release.

Bernier suffered a knee injury in Canada's 18-16 semifinal win over host France on Wednesday.

Canada will be making its first appearance in a Women's Rugby World Cup final at Stade Jean-Bouin. Canada has finished fourth on three occasions and settled for a sixth-place showing in 2010.

England was a finalist four years ago and has lost to New Zealand in the last three finals.

Canada opened its World Cup campaign with victories over Spain and Samoa, before playing England to a draw to end the pool stage. England defeated Ireland 40-7 to reach the final.

“We know that England is a very strong team and they showed that in the semifinals against Ireland on Wednesday,” said Canadian head coach Francois Ratier. “Sunday is an incredible opportunity for us to show how far Canadian women’s rugby has come and that we belong in the finals of the World Cup.

"Our athletes have spent years preparing for this moment and we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”

Canada and England have played four times in the last 12 months.

Canada won twice at last summer’s Nations Cup tournament in Denver but England followed that up with a decisive victory last fall in the final game of Canada’s November Tour. The teams played to a 13-13 draw last Saturday in Marcoussis, France.

Canadian captain Kelly Russell of Bolton, Ont., and teammate Magali Harvey of Quebec City are on the shortlist for the International Rugby Board's women's player of the year honour. The winner will be announced after the final.

New Zealand and the United States will meet in the fifth-place game early Sunday. Ireland and France will play in the third-place game before the championship.

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