Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Women Kick off High-Profile Rugby Sevens Season, Looking to Win It All

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian Women Kick off High-Profile Rugby Sevens Season, Looking to Win It All

Article excerpt

Canadian women open big rugby sevens season

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His hand partially forced by injury, Canada coach John Tait has injected youth into his squad for the season-opening stop in Dubai on the 2017-18 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens.

Bianca Farella and Charity Williams both had shoulder surgery in September and are not expected back until the Commonwealth Games in April. Kaili Lukan, a former college basketball player who was expected to have a big season alongside sister Megan, is out for the year after injuring her anterior cruciate ligament. Sara Kaljuvee is also injured.

That opens the door to 18-year-old Tausani Levale and 21-year-old Emma Chown, who will make their senior debut in the desert heat of Dubai where temperatures in the high 20s (Celsius) are expected for the women's competition Thursday and Friday.

The men kick off their campaign Friday in Dubai.

It's a big season for sevens with the Commonwealth Games (April 4-15 on Australia's Gold Coast) and the 2018 Rugby World Cup Sevens (July 20-22, San Francisco)

After Dubai, the women will take part in World Series stops in Australia, Japan, Langford, B.C., and France.

New Zealand dominated the 2016-17 circuit, taking five of six events. Canada won the other stop, defeating the U.S., in the Sydney final for its third ever tournament win (the others were Amsterdam in 2015 and Clermont in 2016).

Canada has finished in the top three in the standings five years in a row. The goal this season is to win it all, peaking for the Rugby World Cup Sevens where Canada was runner-up to New Zealand four years ago.

The Commonwealth Games are the team's third priority, mainly because of timing. The Games rugby competition goes April 12-14 while the Japan stop on the World Series is April 21-22.

"We'll probably be splitting the squad a little over those two (events) if we're tracking towards our first goal of wining the (World) Series," said Tait.

The Canadian women will be looking for a better start in Dubai this year. In the wake of a longer-than-normal break following the Olympics, Canada finished sixth in the season-opener.

That eventually cost them in the overall standings with Canada placing third on the season, two points behind Australia. …

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