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Rugby Canada – Captain Kelly Russell to lead Coach Francois Ratier’s side in New Zealand against Black Ferns, England and Australia less than two months ahead of Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland

LANGFORD, B.C. (May 4, 2017) – Canada’s senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier has named a 28-player squad for their final Women’s Rugby World Cup tune-up games in New Zealand as part of the International Women’s Rugby Series.

In addition to facing New Zealand, Canada will also tackle England and Australia next month in their final games ahead of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Dublin and Belfast this August.

“It’s important to play the top teams before we go to the Women’s Rugby World Cup,” Ratier said. “Also, New Zealand is the best place to continue our team bonding. Rugby is a religion there and it’s important for the players who have never been there to be exposed to their culture.”

Canada, who is ranked No. 3 in the world, will face top-ranked New Zealand on June 9 before facing No.2 ranked England on June 13. They will conclude their tour on June 17 against Australia who are ranked No. 6.

The clash with New Zealand will be of particular interest as Canada will face the Black Ferns in the pool stages of the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland in August. Canada will also battle Hong Kong and Wales in the pool stages.

“The focus is to be a better team after this tour in all aspects,” Ratier said. “New Zealand are number one in the world and in our World Cup pool while England are the reigning World Champions and Australia will show they deserve a better ranking than where they are now.”

Canada is coming off of a dominant victory in the 2017 Can-Am Series as they dismantled the USA 39-5 and 37-10 in their two-game series in San Diego.

Captained by Kelly Russell, the squad features 25 returnees from the Can-Am Series. Alex Tessier, who missed the Can-Am Series with injury, is recalled while Chelsey Minter and Kristy Sargent are also named to the team.

Streaming and kickoff details for all three games will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Canada’s Senior Women’s Roster for New Zealand Tour (Name, club, hometown):

Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Trois Rivieres, QC) 

Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC (Innisfil, ON) 

Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians/Cowichan RFC (Uxbridge, ON) 

Latoya Blackwood, Westshore RFC (Montreal, QC) 

Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC) 

Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen/Castaway Wanderers (Mapledale, NB)

Jacey Grusnick, Aurora Barbarians (Alliston, ON)

Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids (Edmonton, AB) 

Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec (Quebec City, QC) 

Lori Josephson, Aurora Barbarians (Beaverton, ON) 

Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats (Guelph, ON) 

Mary Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club (Brampton, ON) 

Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats (Saskatoon, SK) 

Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby (Vancouver, BC)

DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets (Vulcan, AB)

Barbara Mervin, Westshore RFC (Peterborough, ON)

Brianna Miller, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC/Westshore RFC (Pointe-Claire, QC) 

Chelsey Minter (Sidney, BC; Westshore RFC)

Cindy Nelles, Belleville Bulldogs (Belleville, ON) 

Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec/Castaway Wanderers (Quebec City, QC) 

Frederique Rajotte, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC (Montreal, QC) 

Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON)

Kelly Russell, Toronto Nomads/Cowichan RFC (Bolton, ON) 

Kristy Sargent, Leprechaun Tigers (Edmonton, AB) 

Alex Tessier, Montreal Barbarians (Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QC) 

Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC (Brandon, MB) 

Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club/Castaway Wanderers (Vancouver, BC)

Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers (Montreal, QC)

Unavailable due to injury:

Demi Stamatakis, SFU (Vancouver, BC)

International Women’s Rugby Series

Friday, 9 June – Wellington

Black Ferns v Canada, Westpac Stadium (followed by Hurricanes v Chiefs)

Australia v England, Porirua Park

Tuesday, 13 June – Christchurch 

Black Ferns v Australia, Rugby Park

Canada v England, Rugby Park

Saturday, 17 June – Rotorua 

Black Ferns v England, Rotorua International Stadium (followed by Maori All Blacks v British and Irish Lions)

Australia v Canada, Smallbone Park


About Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of rugby union in Canada.  Rugby Union 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.

Rugby Canada has also put a renewed emphasis on developing its junior programs 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.  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.

Bryan Kelly  I  Manager, Communications and Media Relations  I  Rugby Canada  I  3024 Glen Lake Road  I Langford, British Columbia, Canada V9B 4B4  I  Tel. 250.418.8998 ext. 314  I  Fax 250.386.3810  I Cell. 250.216.5272 | I