Canadian women’s rugby coach summons reinforcements for New Zealand Sevens

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Injuries have prompted Canada women's coach Jack Hanratty to call in reinforcements for the New Zealand Sevens, the third stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

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Injuries have prompted Canada women’s coach Jack Hanratty to call in reinforcements for the New Zealand Sevens, the third stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The injury-ravaged Canadian women were reduced to eight players on the final day of play last month at the South Africa Sevens. Canada finished eighth in Cape Town and stands ninth overall in the standings.

Julia Greenshields, Breanne Nicholas, Florence Symonds and Keyara Wardley, all injured in South Africa, miss out on the trip to New Zealand.

Captain Phil Berna is interviewed ahead of a Canada Sevens rugby tournament in Vancouver, on Thursday, September 16, 2021. Berna leads Canada at the New Zealand Sevens, which also features the Canadian women's rugby sevens team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Maddy Grant and Alysha Corrigan make the transition from the 15s national team. Pamphinette Buisa, part of the Canadian Olympic sevens squad in Tokyo, and Chloe Daniels return to the sevens roster.

Buisa and Daniels were also part of the Canadian 15s team at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, where Canada finished fourth in November.

Canada has been drawn in Pool B along with France, Australia and Japan for the New Zealand Sevens tournament, which runs Jan. 21-22 at FMG Stadium Waikato.

“We were hit hard with injuries in Cape Town and we had players stepping up and getting an opportunity to gain some crucial Sevens Series experience,” Hanratty said in a statement. “Every stop on the series is an opportunity to test ourselves against the best, and we are looking forward to starting off the new year with the chance to test the strength and depth of our squad in New Zealand.”

Canada opens pool play against France, currently fourth in the standings, before facing No. 1 Australia and No. 11 Japan.

Australia won the opening event of the season in Dubai and was runner-up to New Zealand in South Africa.

The Canadian men, 13th overall in the standings after three events, face No. 2 South Africa, No. 8 Argentina and No. 12 Spain in pool play in New Zealand.

Interim coach Sean White gives a sevens debut to Dawson Fatoric, who first represented Canada last summer in test matches against Belgium and Spain.

Captain Phil Berna leads the Canadian men, who are coming off 14th-place finishes in Dubai and Cape Town. The men opened the season with a 10th-place finish in Hong Kong.

Josh Thiel returns to the sevens squad after a stint with the 15s team. Elias Hancock, who was a member of the 2022 Singapore Sevens and Commonwealth Games teams, has also been named to the New Zealand roster.

Fatoric, Hancock and Thiel come in for Lockie Kratz, David Richard and Alex Russell.

“I thought the players executed the small adjustments we made prior to Dubai and Cape Town quite well,” said White. “Their execution, especially early in the games, put us in a strong position.

“Where we are looking to improve is with our execution under pressure and minimizing our unforced errors at pivotal moments, which has been a focus of ours since returning in the new year. In Hamilton we are aiming to build off the many positives the team showed they are capable of in Cape Town.”

After New Zealand, the Canadian men and women head to Australia for the Jan. 27-29 HSBC Sydney Sevens.

Canada Rugby Sevens Roster

Women

Olivia De Couvreur, Ottawa, Ottawa Irish; Krissy Scurfield, Canmore, Alta., University of Victoria; Renee Gonzalez, Toronto, University of Victoria; Charity Williams, Toronto, Markham Irish; Bianca Farella, Montreal, Town of Mont Royal RFC; Fancy Bermudez, Edmonton, Nor’Westers Athletic Association/Westshore RFC; Alysha Corrigan, Charlottetown, Charlottetown RFC/Saracens; Nakisa Levale, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., Lindsay RFC; Shalaya Valenzuela, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Maddy Grant, Cornwall, Ont., University of Ottawa; Chloe Daniels, Sutton, Ont., Aurora Barbarians/Queen’s University; Pamphinette Buisa, Gatineau, Que., Ottawa Irish/University of Victoria.

Men

Anton Ngongo, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Jake Thiel, Victoria, James Bay AA; D’Shawn Bowen, Toronto, Pacific Pride; Phil Berna, Vancouver, Vancouver Rowing Club; Josiah Morra, Toronto, Castaway Wanderers/Toronto Saracens; Brock Webster, Uxbridge, Ont., Oshawa Vikings RFC; Elias Ergas, Vancouver, University of British Columbia; Josh Thiel, Victoria, James Bay AA; Matthew Oworu, Calgary, Pacific Pride; Thomas Isherwood, Okotoks, Alta., Foothills Lions RFC; Dawson Fatoric, Ottawa, Pacific Pride; Kal Sager, Peterborough, Ont., Peterborough Pagans/Trent University; Elias Hancock, Ottawa, Bytown Blues.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

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