Monday, January 20, 2014

A Couple Opposing Rosters

Rugby Canada released their Maple Leafs roster and it boasts a lot of youth. There are some players I've had the priviledige of playing with/against  via Team Average and the Beavers the last 2 years; it will be great to see them again - though they are in a different pool and we're hoping to meet them in the final! Scouting reports from my Canadian sources said, "Fast, fit, will win each game by 15-20 points and easily take the tournament like they did in Tobago." Sounds like a challenge for the Stars to undertake!

From the Rugby Canada release

 photo: Rugby Canada website via Stephen Macnell

"LANGFORD, BC – Rugby Canada is pleased to announce the Women’s Maple Leafs roster for the upcoming Las Vegas Sevens taking place January 24-26.

The tournament, which is the largest of its kind in North America, is a three-day event and comes less than a month out from the second round of the Women’s Sevens World Series (WSWS) February 15-16 in Atlanta, Georgia.

After sending two teams to last year’s tournament, both of which made the final, the Maple Leafs will only be registering one this time around.

Head Coach Sandro Fiorino will be looking to build off recent success as the Maple Leafs are coming off back-to-back dominant performances. He will be doing so with a roster full of youth.

U-20 graduates Emily Belchos, Nikki Case, Paige Farries, Sarah Kaljuvee, Nadia Popov and Frederique Rajotte have all been named to the team. Joining them are young veterans Bianca Farella (21-years-old) and Magali Harvey (23). Leadership presence will come from 27-year-old Elissa Alarie and 30-year-old Brittany Waters, both of which have played on every team in the women’s program.

In early November, the Maple Leafs went a perfect 6-0 outscoring their opponents 273-0 en route to capturing the 2013 North American Caribbean Rugby Association Sevens. Then in early December, they went undefeated in capturing the Tobago Sevens. While their opponents are not the world’s elite, the continued progression speaks to the depth of the women’s program.

The Women’s National Sevens Team and the Maple Leafs are together in San Diego this week training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.

National Women’s Sevens Head Coach John Tait thinks the time spent training at the state of the art facility has been extremely beneficial for the entire women’s sevens program.

It's great to have all the athlete's and support staff in the program down here preparing for the year ahead,” said Tait. “It is about the halfway point in our centralized program so being away together gives us a chance to reflect on the last four months and what we want to focus on improving collectively moving forward.”

The high performance facility is centred around Olympic preparation and caring for athlete’s needs. The teams have been sharing meals and training space with many different Olympic athletes, not just rugby players.

“I’ve honestly never seen anything comparable to this training environment,” said Tait.

The time away has also allowed Tait and Fiorino to assess how they want to approach the next month. With the second round of the WSWS just four weeks away, this is a crucial time for both coaches and players.

Our Maple Leafs team has become an important vehicle for not only the development of younger players to gain experience, but also for players trying new positions or returning from injuries and looking to put themselves forward in selection to the IRB Series,” said Tait.

There is no denying that a strong showing in Las Vegas could be the difference in being selected for Atlanta next month.

Performance always counts,” said Tait. “Some of those going to Vegas will be selected for Atlanta and that selection as well as playing time will depend on how they do in the scrimmages against the US while here and how Vegas goes.”

Canada's Women's Maple Leafs games will not be streamed live; however, regular updates will be provided at and make sure to follow Rugby Canada on Social Media for up-to-the-minute information.

Canadian Maple Leafs Kick off Times - January 24-25
Day One
Maple Leafs vs. Aptoella at 8:40am local time (5:40am ET/8:40am PT)
Maple Leafs vs. Serpientes at 11:20am local time (8:20am ET/11:20am PT)
Maple Leafs vs. Japan at 2:00pm local time (11:am ET/2:00pm PT

Day Two

Women’s Maple Leafs Roster for Las Vegas Sevens – Name, (Club) Hometown:

Elissa Alarie, (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue Rugby Club) Trois-Rivieres, QC
Emily Belchos, (Markham Irish RFC) Barrie, ON
Nikki Case, (Yeoman Lions) Toronto, ON
Arielle Dubissette-Borrice, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Toronto, ON 
Bianca Farella, (Town of Mount Royal RFC) Montreal, QC 
Paige Farries (Druid RFC) Red Deer, AB
Magali Harvey, (Club de Rugby Quebec) Quebec City, QC
Sara Kaljuvee, (Toronto Scottish RFC) Pickering, ON
Nadia Popov, (Aurora Barbarians) Newmarket, ON
Frederique Rajotte, (Markam Irish RFC) Markham, ON
Brittany Waters, (Meraloma Athletic Club) Vancouver, BC

Maple Leafs Staff:

Head Coach: Sandro Fiorino
Coach: John Tait
Physiotherapist: Adrienne Stinson
Strength and Conditioning: Dana Agar-Newman

Canada’s Women’s Sevens Program is proudly sponsored by Macquarie Financial, Sport Canada and Own the Podium."

Aptoella, also in the other pool, released their roster via Facebook. I had the chance to play with these women, many of them capped Canada 7s and 15s athletes, in Calgary this past summer. An Achilles injury that necessitated 9 stitches and a first-hand experience with socialized healthcare prevented me from taking the field for the tournament but watching and camping with the team (and hobbling water) was quite fun. They have the ability to compete with, and beat, every team in the Elite bracket given their speed and experience.  Plus they have the best rugby shorts I've ever seen - the only women's specific shorts I've ever seen - designed by Barbara Mervin of Aptoella!

photo: Aptoella facebook page

1. Amanda Thornborough
2. Andrea Burk
3. Barbara Mervin
4. Brittany Orr
5. Colette McAuley
6. Julianne Zussman ©
7. Kara Galbrith
8. Kayla Mack
9. Kehla Guimond
10. Michelle Helmeczi
11. Selina McGinnis
12. Susy Beinstock

Coach: Robin MacDowell
Physio: Brad Curry
Photographer: Krystal Claver


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