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Canadian Women carry the hopes of the nation as they embark on the upcoming Women's Rugby World Cup that begins August 9th (Wednesday) in Dublin. Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau aired a bilingual, good luck message to the team.
In the 2014 WRWC in Paris, the Canadians finished a surprising second, winning a silver medal.
Most recently, the Canadians finished third in a four team warm up in New Zealand. England won the series, defeating the Kiwis. The Red Roses are top of the rankings at 92.46, slightly ahead of the Black Ferns who tally 91.98. Canada stand lower at 87.13 while the USA rank seventh with a 76.60 rating.
The Canadian Women's 7s placed third in this season's HSBC World Rugby Women's 7s series behind champions New Zealand and Australia. The Maple Leafs won the Sydney event, the only tournament not won by the Black Ferns.
The women have been the sole bright spot in rugby Canada these past few years as the Men's XV have underperformed, dropping to an all-time low of 23rd in the World Rugby rankings. Further, the Canadian Men have not beaten the USA since August 2013, experiencing six losses and one draw. They - and not the USA as in the past - will have to qualify for the Americas 2 slot in the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. This will be home and away games against Uruguay.
The Canadian Women feature a seasoned group of 18 players returning from that last World Cup in 2014 when the Maple Leafs lost to England 21-9 in the final. The Russell sisters Laura and Kelly are standout players. Also in the mix is Magali Harvey, 2014's Women's Player of the Year, who scored a wonder try against France in the 2014 WRWC semis.
To advance, the Canadians must beat New Zealand in pool play in the third match or tally enough points if they lose to the Black Ferns.
A nation waits for this important rugby game.