SAN DIEGO â€” Captain Kelly Russell leads an experienced squad as the Canadian women’s rugby squad opens its 2017 campaign against the U.S. in their Can-Am Series opener Tuesday.
Coach Francois Ratier’s matchday 23 features 14 players who saw action in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final. Ten of Tuesday’s starting 15 played in that 21-9 loss to England.
Canada, ranked third in the world, will also play the seventh-ranked Americans on Saturday.
Canada will head to New Zealand in June to play England, Australia and the host Black Ferns ahead of the August World Cup in Ireland where the Canadian women have been drawn in a pool with New Zealand, Wales and Hong Kong.
“It’s two more international games so it’s obviously important to play international games before the World Cup and nothing can replace international rugby as part of our preparation,” Ratier said in a statement.
Canada is 16-18-0 all-time against the U.S. Canada won 33-5 the last time they met, at last year’s World Rugby Super Series in Salt Lake City.
Canada (with club and hometown)
Carolyn McEwen, Burnaby, Vancouver; Laura Russell, Toronto Nomads, Bolton, Ont.; DaLeaka Menin, Calgary Hornets, Vulcan, Alta.; Kayla Mack, Saskatoon Wild Oats, Saskatoon; Latoya Blackwood, Westshore RFC, Montreal; Jacey Grusnick, Aurora Barbarians, Alliston, Ont.; Karen Paquin, Club de Rugby de Quebec, Quebec City; Kelly Russell (capt.), Toronto Nomads, Bolton, Ont.; Chelsea Guthrie, Stratchona Druids, Edmonton; Emily Belchos, Westshore RFC, Innisfil, Ont.; Frederique Rajotte, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC, Montreal; Andrea Burk, Capilano RFC, North Vancouver; Amanda Thornborough, Westshore RFC, Brandon, Man.; Magali Harvey, Club de Rugby de Quebec, Quebec City; Julianne Zussman, Castaway Wanderers, Montreal.
Jane Kirby, Highland Fergus Rugby Club, Brampton, Ont.; Brittany Kassil, Guelph Redcoats, Guelph, Ont.; Olivia DeMerchant, Woodstock Wildmen, Mapledale, N.B.; Tyson Beukeboom, Aurora Barbarians, Uxbridge, Ont.; Cindy Nelles, Belleville Bulldogs, Belleville, Ont.; Brianna Miller, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC, Pointe-Claire, Que.; Brittany Waters, Meraloma Athletic Club, Vancouver; Elissa Alarie, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue RFC, Trois Rivieres, Que.
The Canadian Press