PHOTO: Women’s rugby sevens land on island ahead of Langford tournament

Members of Canada’s women’s rugby sevens team arrived at the Swartz Bay terminal on Tuesday after winning the Rugby Americas North qualifier in the Bahamas, giving the team a place in the Rugby Sevens World Cup. (Bailey Morton/News Officer)
The Canada Women'S Rugby Sevens Team Gathers For A Team Photo After Arriving At The Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal Around Noon On Tuesday.  (Bailey Morton/News Officer)The Canada women’s rugby sevens team gathers for a team photo after arriving at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal around noon on Tuesday. (Bailey Morton/News Officer)
Canada Rugby Sevens Team Member Elissa Alari Said The Langford Tournament Was A Favorite Stop For Many Players On The Sevens Circuit.  (Bailey Morton/News Officer)Canada rugby sevens team member Elissa Alari said the Langford tournament was a favorite stop for many players on the sevens circuit. (Bailey Morton/News Officer)
Canada Women'S Sevens Rugby Head Coach Jack Hanratty Said The Team Has Been Building Cohesion And Gaining Momentum During This Recent Block Of Practice And Games.  (Bailey Morton/News Officer)Canada Women’s Sevens Rugby Head Coach Jack Hanratty said the team has been building cohesion and gaining momentum during this recent block of practice and games. (Bailey Morton/News Officer)

The Canadian women’s rugby sevens team arrived at the Schwartz Bay Ferry Terminal on Tuesday ahead of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens tournament at Langford this weekend.

The team was traveling from the Bahamas, where it secured a spot at the Rugby Sevens World Cup in South Africa by beating Mexico in the final of the qualifying tournament. They have a week of rest and training before matches start on Saturday at Starlight Stadium.

“This is a new group of players (several of them) who have been to the Olympics and we have players who played at university or graduated from high school just a few months ago, and that, in my opinion, is exciting. Players will know who is on their left and who is on their right, and will now be able to see the game as a team, not as individuals,” said head coach Jack Hanratty.

Canada dominated the Rugby Americas North tournament in the Bahamas with 265 unanswered points in five games. The weekend allowed the team to practice well, said veteran Elissa Alari, who also plays for Westshore RFC in Colwood.

“We understand that they are weaker, but we still tried during these games to play as if we were playing more of a test match, sometimes slowing it down, trying other moves and all that. So I think the momentum is only building up and we are now ready for a higher level,” she said.

Alari added that the team has been rebuilding in recent months, with new players coming in to fill in the gaps left by the retirement of a number of players following last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Rugby Canada as a whole is in the process of recovering after a high performance review report was released in March and a new chief executive officer was announced earlier on Tuesday.

“The high performance review came out and it was a difficult reality for us. But this is reality. We can either sit and worry about the past, or we can try to build a new future. This is our goal and this is the first time this band will perform in front of a home audience. After this review, we can show that we are doing our best,” Hanratty said.

“It’s a game of sevens, but we hope (the home audience) will be the eighth man when possible,” he added.

On Saturday, the team will play against Mexico, Spain and Australia, ranked first in the world. The first game of the day, USA vs. Fiji, kicks off at 9:30, while Canada’s first match is scheduled for 10:58 against Spain. Playoff action will begin at 10:00 Sunday.

General admission tickets are still available online here.

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