Canadian rugby women prove to be Pan Am Games...
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Jul 11, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Canadian rugby women prove to be Pan Am Games powerhouse

Canadian sevens shut out Colombia, Mexico and Brazil by combined 151-0 count on day one at Exhibition Stadium

OurWindsor.Ca

Canadians are reputed to be nice, considerate people, but it’s doubtful that the international field of rugby sevens would agree with that just now.

The Canadian women took to the pitch for the Pan Am tournament opener, scored in less than 30 seconds and never let up, trouncing Colombia 55-0.

The Mexicans didn’t fare any better — 60-0 Canada. The Brazilians, working hard to build their team for the Rio Olympics, put up more of a fight but still fell 36-0 to the dominant home team.

“We never let up,” captain Jen Kish said. “You don’t want to show any compassion for your opponents. Off the field is a different matter.

“When we play the U.S. (Sunday), chances are it will be a two-point spread, but no matter how big the point spread is we always try to give a show with the kickoffs. That’s one of the most exciting things about sevens — us winning the ball back — and I think Canadian fans don’t mind the big point spread.”

This is the first time Canada’s rugby sevens women and men have played an international tournament in Toronto — there were 21 matches in all on Saturday. The short turnaround between matches wasn’t a bad thing at all, according to Kish and teammate Karen Paquin.

They’re playing for their country and — as the “Ruck Cancer” notation on Kish’s taped wrists shows — with another cause in mind. Their fathers are battling cancer.

“He’s in the hospital. He’s been in the ICU for a bit, so it’s been pretty tough for me to stay focused” off the pitch, Kish said.

On the pitch it’s a different matter.

“I’m able to channel that energy and put it towards my team . . . I love to play and it keeps my mind off things. The difficult part is when I step off the field afterwards,” Kish added, pointing to her wrist tape in support of a rugby-themed fundraiser. “When I’m playing, it’s a dream come true.”

This is the multi-sport Games debut for women’s rugby, a sneak peek at the action-packed sport that will make its Olympic debut next year in Rio. Canada’s women have already qualified.

Each game consists of seven-minute halves — 10 minutes in the final — with just a minute break for halftime.

For Canadian audiences more familiar with soccer or traditional 15-a-side rugby, the speed with which seven players cover the pitch is astounding. Blink and you could miss a five-point try and two-point conversion, especially when the Canadians are on the pitch.

The final score after day one at Exhibition Stadium: Canada 151, opponents 0.

As Ashley Steacy puts it: “When the tries come, we take them.”

The Canadians can’t afford to be generous in case point differential becomes a factor. They’ll play Argentina and the U.S. before the matchups for Sunday night’s medal round are set — perhaps with a Canada-U.S. rematch for gold.

In most summer team sports Canada would be the underdog against the Americans, but not in women’s rugby. The hosts rank second only to New Zealand, with the U.S. — which also won three times on Saturday, by a combined 120-14 — rated fifth.

“We have a good rivalry with them and we want to stay on top,” said Canada’s head coach, John Tait, who used his entire roster of 12 — subbing in five at a time, something he said he’d never done before. Every player but one scored a try or conversion.

“It was a luxury and a hope that we had coming into today,” he said. “We were able to rotate, share the minutes and rest up a little bit for (Sunday’s) games because they’ll be a lot tougher,” Tait added.

Toronto Star

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