With two rounds left of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, Canada still has a top-two finish in their sights and will be anxious to give their home crowd something to cheer about at the Canada Sevens in Langford, British Colombia, this weekend. That’s according to former squad member and member of the Canada team that made the final of Women's Rugby World Cup 2014 Andrea Burk, who is attending the tournament as a member of the media.

Originally from the west coast, Burk is a product of the highly successful and internationally acclaimed rugby programme at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and she says the BC crowd will push the home team all the way.

“This is a team that is becoming used to pressure,” said the 35-year-old from Vancouver. “Winning bronze at the Olympics taught them a lot about dealing with that expectation and I think they will thrive on the support of their fans in Langford. It’s going to be a big crowd, making a lot of noise and creating a fantastic atmosphere. Hopefully, Canada will settle into that, feed off it, really enjoy themselves and play with smiles on their faces. That’s when they are at their best.”

Truth be told, Canada are still smarting from last year when they were beaten in the quarter-finals by an emerging France team and they’ll want to put that right in 2017. With the likes of Jen Kish, Ghislaine Landry and Brittany Benn leading the way, there is plenty of experience to draw from but it’s the newer members of the squad that Burk is most excited about.

Lightning pace

“Keep an eye on Julia Greenshields,” she said. “We know she has lightning pace and is a great finisher but she’s also developing other aspects of her game too that allow her to take the fight to the opposition when the need arises. The way the team is set up at the moment will give her the freedom to use her pace to devastating effect. Amazingly, she has a better scoring percentage than Landry although of course she’s played a fraction of the games.”

Another player on Burk’s watch list is 19-year-old Caroline Crossley. A local girl, Crossley comes from the nearby Castaway Wanderers RFC and earned her first cap back in 2015 at Dubai while still in her final year at Oak Bay High School in Victoria. Her progression has been steady since then and now she has another chance to cement her place in the squad. 

Burk said: “Caroline has the physical presence to match up well against the Russians and French. She’s about as homegrown as you can get and while the Langford crowd will be cheering loudly for Canada, they’ll reserve some extra volume for Julia. It’s great to see her stepping up at this level, as well as players like Hannah Darling and Breanne Nicholas.”

Currently occupying third position on the series table, Canada are just two points behind Australia in second and 12 behind leaders New Zealand. Burk says the Canucks will be targeting a top-two finish overall but the way the series is becoming more competitive, it’s not just the teams ahead of them they need to worry about.

“We know how good New Zealand and Australia are but we also know from experience that France are tough and are improving all the time. The same is true of Fiji. They are one of my favourite teams to watch, so unorthodox, and they are beginning to add a bit of structure to their natural Fijian flair which is making them formidable opponents for everyone. I’m looking forward to watching them play in the sunshine this weekend.”

Find out where you can watch the HSBC Canada Sevens HERE.