Written by Taylor Prichard, Sports Information
Photo by Valerie Wutti
Former Ravens rugby star and assistant coach Natasha Smith has been selected to play for the Women’s National Rugby Maple Leafs team in a series of exhibitions against an American team as part of the Women’s Rugby Super Series.
Canada’s Maple Leafs side will begin its two-game series against the USA Collegiate All-Americans on July 5 with a second test to follow on July 9. The Maple Leafs team roster is comprised of players with senior level experience along with the country’s top young players.
Smith, who was an assistant coach with the Ravens in 2015, played two varsity seasons with Carleton (2012 and 2014) . The RSEQ conference twice named Smith to the league’s All-Star team, while she was also earned CIS All-Canadian status in 2014. Smith ranks first on the rugby team’s all-time scoring list with twenty-five tries (125 points) in only 12 games.
MEDIA RELEASE courtesy of Rugby Canada
Written by Matt Tidcombe
SALT LAKE CITY — Interim Head Coach Shaun Allen has made one change to Canada’s Senior Women’s starting XV for Tuesday’s Women’s Rugby Super Series (WRSS) game against the USA.
After grabbing a try in Friday’s 52-17 win over England, Katie McNally is rewarded with a start on the wing in place of Frédérique Rajotte who moves to the bench.
“We did a very good job on attack against England,” Allen said. “The understanding and commitment shown by the squad was exactly what we were looking for in our first fixture. Against the USA we are looking for the players to perform their specific roles and to improve on the refinements that we have worked on in training and our review.”
Carolyn McEwen, Mary-Jane Kirby and DaLeaka Menin all start in the front row with Captain Laura Russell and Kayla Mack forming a dynamic lock duo. Barbara Mervin, Latoya Blackwood and Friday’s player of the match Jacey Murphy start in the back row.
Edmonton’s Chelsea Guthrie, who grabbed her first test try in Friday’s win, starts at scrum-half with Emily Belchos at No. 10. McNally is joined on the wing by Vancouver’s Brittany Waters with Andrea Burk and Alex Tessier forming the centre duo. Montreal’s Julianne Zussman starts at fullback.
With three games in just eight days, the WRSS presents a very quick turnaround between games. Canada plays its final game of the tournament on Saturday having played its opener on Friday.
“We have had a limited time to practice between games,” Allen said. “The priority has been on recovery and making sure that all the players are able to play at as close to 100 percent as possible. In our training we were looking at small improvements in some key areas that the coaches and players identified through video.”
After a seven-try win over England, Canada sits atop the WRSS standings while in the other game Friday, the USA lost 19-13 to France. Canada also moved up to fourth in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings after their emphatic victory over England.
Canada faced the USA last year in Red Deer, AB, with the visitors collecting a 36-28 win in a fast paced affair. Canada is 15-18 all-time against the USA.
“We know that they are a very resilient group,” Allen said. “They put in a strong, gutsy performance against France and had a chance to win at the end of the game. The defensive performance that they put it, specifically at the end of the first half inside their 22, showed that they will be a difficult team to score on. They have a number of players that can be very threatening if we allow them to establish their rhythm.”
Additionally, Canada’s Maple Leafs will begin its two-game series against the USA Collegiate All-Americans. Captained by Lori Josephson, the team features a mix of players with test experience as well as some of Canada’s rising young stars.
“The Maple Leafs Series against the USA Collegiate All-Americans is very important to both the short term and long term success of the Women’s Senior program,” Allen said. “It is fantastic to have the opportunity to have the senior and Maple Leaf groups in the same location at the same time and to share coaching and management resources.
“The USA CAA will be a strong side and will give the players representing the Maple Leafs a great opportunity to show what they are capable of under international pressure.”
Tuesday’s Maple Leafs game kicks off at 1pm ET/10am PT while Canada vs. USA begins at 7pm ET/4pm PT. Both games can be seen LIVE on www.therugbychannel.tv. A subscription is required but the first 30 days are FREE.
Canada’s Roster vs. USA (Name, club, hometown):
1. Carolyn McEwen (Burnaby Lake Rugby Club), Vancouver, BC
2. Mary-Jane Kirby (Highland RFC) Brampton, ON
3. DaLeaka Menin (Hornets) Vulcan, AB
4. Laura Russell captain (Toronto Nomads) Bolton, ON
5. Kayla Mack (Wild Oats) Saskatoon, SK
6. Barbara Mervin (Velox RFC) Peterborough, ON
7. Latoya Blackwood (St. Anne de Bellevue/Toulouse) Montreal, QC
8. Jacey Murphy (Aurora Barbarians) Alliston, ON
9. Chelsea Guthrie (Stratchona Druids) Edmonton, AB
10. Emily Belchos (Markham Irish) Barrie, ON
11. Katie McNally (Castaway Wanderers) Guelph, ON
12. Andrea Burk (Capilano RFC) North Vancouver, BC
13. Alex Tessier (Montreal Barbarians) Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, QB
14. Brittany Waters (Castaway Wanderers) Vancouver, BC
15. Julianne Zussman (Castaway Wanderers) Montreal, QC
16. Julia Folk (UVic/Castaway Wanderers), Regina, SK
17. Demi Stamatakis (SFU) Vancouver, BC
18. Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock Wildmen) Mapledale, NB
19. Tyson Beukeboom (Aurora Barbarians) Uxbridge, ON
20. Fabiola Forteza (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
21. Brianna Miller (SABRFC), Pointe-Claire, QC
22. Anais Holly (TMRRFC) Montreal, QC
23. Frédérique Rajotte (Sainte Anne de Bellevue RFC) Sainte Anne de Bellevue, QC
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Staff:
Shaun Allen- Interim Head Coach*
Colette McAuley- Rugby Canada Development Coach
Gary Dukelow- Scrum Coach
Nicole Crowley- Tour Manager
Nicole Ainsworth- Therapist
Jaimie McCartney- Strength and Conditioning
James Kent – Analyst
* Senior women’s head coach Francois Ratier is not on tour due to personal reasons
Canada’s Women’s Rugby Super Series Schedule:
Canada 52-17 England
Canada vs. USA — July 5, 7pm ET/4pm PT
Canada vs. France — July 9, 3pm ET/12pm PT
Canada’s Maple Leafs side vs. USA Collegiate All-Americans (Name, club, hometown):
1. Colleen Irowa (McMaster University) Innisifil, ON
2. Kathleen Keller (Castaway Wanderers) Quebec, QC
3. Chelsey Minter (Velox Valkyries) Sydney, NS
4. Emma Taylor (HRFC) Halifax, NS
5. Camile Provençal-Aube (Abénakis et CRQ), Sherbrooke, QC
6. Katie Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs) Belleville, ON
7. Sara Svoboda (Belleville Bulldogs RFC) Belleville, ON
8. Daria Keane (Guelph Redcoats) Sarnia, ON
9. Lori Josephson, captain (Aurora Barbarians) Beaverton, ON
10. Mackenzie Higgs (Aurora Barbarians) Aurora, ON
11. Elysa Sandron (Winnipeg Saracens RFC) Winnipeg, MB
12. Julia Goss (Leprechaun Tigers) Edmonton, AB
13. Amanda Williams (Calgary Hornets) Souris, MB
14. Natasha Smith (Barrhaven Scottish) Ottawa, ON
15. Alanna Fittes (Leprechaun Tigers) Rimbey, AB
16. Simone Savory
17. Megan Copeland- Dinan
18. Brittany Kassil (Guelph Redcoats) Guelph, ON
19. Gillian Boag (Calgary, AB; Capilano/UBC)
20. Ngalula Fuamba (TMR) Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, QC
21. Gabrielle Senft (UVic/Castaway Wanderers) Regina, SK
22. Justine Pelletier (Club de Rugby de Quebec) Quebec, QC
23. Jess Neilson (UVic/Castaway Wanderers) Vancouver, BC
24. Lisa Gauthier (St-Anne de Bellevue), St-Bernardino, ON
25. Petra Woods (Toronto Saracens) Brampton, ON
26. Gillian Allen (Kirin) Saskatoon, SK
Maple Leafs Coaching Staff:
Dan Valley- Rugby Canada Development Coach
Amy Stefaniuk- Therapist
Megan Lowry- Tour Manager
Canada’s Women’s Maple Leafs Schedule:
Maple Leafs vs. USA Collegiate All-Americans — July 5
Maple Leafs vs. USA Collegiate All-Americans — July 9