Canada's head coach Francois Ratier has named a 26-player squad for this Women’s Rugby Super Series in Salt Lake City, Utah next month.
The North American series will take place in July and will include England, France and Canada as well as hosts the United States.
Additionally, Ratier has also selected a 23-player Maple Leafs (A) team that will also compete in Utah against the USA All-Americans.
“It’s very important to be in Utah with these two teams,” Ratier said. “It's an opportunity for our senior team to continue on the road to the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup while giving members of the Maple Leafs a chance to perform and win or reclaim a spot with Canada in the future as well.”
Laura Russell will once again captain Canada’s senior team. Also returning from last year's team are Latoya Blackwood, Tyson Beukeboom, Andrea Burk, Olivia DeMerchant, Chelsea Guthrie, Mary-Jane Kirby, Carolyn McEwen, DaLeaka Menin, Barbara Mervin, Katie McNally, Jacey Murphy, Alex Tessier, Brittany Waters and Julianne Zussman.
There’s also an opportunity for eight players — Anais Holly, Fabiola Forteza, Brianna Miller, Frédérique Rajotte, Elysa Sandron, Kristy Sargent, Demi Stamatakis and Amanda Williams — to make their test debuts for Canada.
“We are still looking to increase our depth at some key positions like scrum half and fly half,” Ratier said. “We want to make sure we can have more than two options before the Women’s Rugby World Cup.
Additionally, Emily Belchos and Kayla Mack, veterans of Canada’s second place finish at the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, have been released from Canada’s women’s sevens programme to play on the senior side.
“They haven’t played fifteens since the last World Cup but they are fit and they know how to play rugby,” Ratier said.
Canada will face England and France in addition to hosts USA over a nine-day period. Last year, Canada was narrowly beaten 15-14 by England while USA edged past Canada 36-28 in Red Deer. Canada has not faced France since defeating them in the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup semi-final.
“England are the World Champions, France just won the Six Nations and USA is always a big battle so the competition will be tough,” Ratier said. “But that is what we need to be better and stronger.”
Canada’s Maple Leafs team features a number of the countries finest young players while mixing in players with test experience including Gillian Allen, Julia Folk, Lisa Gauthier, Lori Josephson, Jess Neilson, Camile Provençal-Aube, Natasha Smith and Emma Taylor.
Later this year, Canada will head to the UK for another tour as preparation for the Women’s Rugby World Cup next year and while two sides have been picked for the WRSS, it’s not an indication of selection for that tour.
“We will pick the November squad for the UK based on performances with Canada, the Maple Leafs, National Championships, CIS and released sevens players so it’s a busy Summer and provides many chances for the players to confirm or win a spot in the senior team,” Ratier said.
Canada’s Senior Women’s Roster for Women’s Rugby Super Series (Name, hometown, club):
Emily Belchos – (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON
Latoya Blackwood (St. Anne de Bellevue/Toulouse) Montreal, QC
Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON
Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
Fabiola Forteza (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB
Anais Holly (TMRRFC) Montreal, QC
Mary-Jane Kirby, (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
Kayla Mack – (Wild Oats) Saskatoon, SK
Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC
DaLeaka Menin (Hornets) Vulcan, AB
Barbara Mervin (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON
Katie McNally (Velox Valkries) Guelph, ON
Brianna Miller (SABRFC), Pointe-Claire, QC
Jacey Murphy (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
Frédérique Rajotte (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC
Laura Russell, captain (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
Elysa Sandron (Winnipeg Saracens RFC) Winnipeg, MB
Kristy Sargent (Lep Tigers) Edmonton, AB
Demi Stamatakis (SFU) Vancouver, BC
Katie Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON
Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB
Brittany Waters (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC
Amanda Williams (Calgary Hornets) Souris, AB
Julianne Zussman (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC
Canada’s Senior Women’s Maple Leafs Roster (Name, hometown, club):
Gillian Allen (Kirin) Saskatoon, SK
Gillian Boag (Calgary, AB; Capilano/UBC)
Alanna Fittes (Leprechaun Tigers) Rimbey, AB
Julia Folk (Regina Rogues), Regina, SK
Ngalula Fuamba (TMR) Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot, QC
Lisa Gauthier (St-Anne de Bellevue), St-Bernardino, ON
Julia Goss (Leprechaun Tigers) Edmonton, AB
Mackenzie Higgs (Aurora Barbarians) Aurora, ON
Colleen Irowa (McMaster University) Innisifil, ON
Lori Josephson (Aurora Barbarians) Beaverton, ON
Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats) Guelph, ON
Daria Keane (Guelph Redcoats) Sarnia, ON
Kathleen Keller (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
Chelsey Minter (Velox Valkyries) Sydney, NS
Jess Neilson (Meraloma) Vancouver, BC
Justine Pelletier (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
Camile Provençal-Aube (Abénakis et CRQ), Sherbrooke, QC
Gabrielle Senft (UVic) Regina, SK
Natasha Smith (Barrhaven Scottish) Ottawa, ON
Sara Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs RFC) Belleville, ON
Emma Taylor (HRFC) Halifax, NS
Brandi Van Eeuwen (Cowichan Rugby Club) Duncan, BC
Petra Woods (Toronto Saracens) Brampton, ON
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Schedule:
Canada vs. England — July 1
Canada vs. USA — July 5
Canada vs. France — July 9
Canada’s Women’s Maple Leafs Schedule:
Maple Leafs vs. USA All-Americans — July 5
Maple Leafs vs. USA All-Americans — July 9