Women’s sevens appears at the 2019 Lima Pan American Games for only the second time this weeken
Four years ago Canada swept to PanAm gold in Toronto, only conceding points to the United States in their pool game, and in the final which the won by 55-7. This weekend they will be in Lima defending their title in a tournament that has expanded from six to eight teams.
Canada set the bar high in winning the women's rugby sevens gold on home soil at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The Canadian women took no prisoners en route to the podium, outscoring its opposition 285-19 and running in 47 tries while yielding just three. After going down 7-0 in the final, Canada hammered the U.S. 55-7 for its sixth straight win.
In Lima Canada have opted for a blend of experience and youth, allowing some veterans time off to rest and recuperate after the HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.
Kayla Moleschi captains a team that is missing Ghislaine Landry, Bianca Farella, Britt Benn, Karen Paquin, Charity Williams, Julia Greenshields and Keyara Wardley, all of whom were part of the team that finished third at the World Series stop in Biarritz, France, last month. Only Moleschi, Caroline Crossley, Emma Chown, Kaili Lukan and Breanne Nicholas return from that squad.
"This tournament is really going to show the depth in our program," Moleschi said. "We've got a lot of girls that are wanting to step up and put their hands up in the hopes of [making] the Olympics.
"We're a world-class team and we're here to bring the heat."
Assistant coach Morgan Williams, a former Canadian international, will run the team in Peru with head coach John Tait back home.
Canada: Delaney Aikens, Briercrest, Sask., UBC; Pam Buisa, Gatineau, Que., Ottawa Irish; Emma Chown, Barrie, Ont., Aurora Barbarians; Caroline Crossley, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Olivia De Couverer, Ottawa, Ottawa Irish; Asia Hogan-Rochester, Toronto, York Lions; Sara Kaljuvee, Ajax, Ont., Toronto Scottish; Tausani Levale, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Kaili Lukan, Barrie, Ont., unattached; Kayla Moleschi (apt.), Williams Lake, B.C., Williams Lake Rustlers; Breanne Nicholas, Blenheim, Ont., London St. Georges RFC; Temitiope Ogunjimi, Calgary, Calgary Hornets
Their main threat will be the United States who are sending a powerful squad featuring 10 players who return from HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series where the USA ended in second place.
Managed by Emilie Bydwell, the group intend to use the Pan American Games to build on their recent as Olympic year approaches. Jordan Gray and Kristi Kirshe will serve as Co-Captains.
“The Pan American games will be an excellent opportunity for our players to build on the momentum from winning gold in France and finishing their season as No. 2 in the world.” said Bydwell. “It's exciting to have two of our young Hawk Eye players bringing a fresh dynamic to the mix in Ari Ramsey and Emily Henrich. Pan Ams will allow the group to continue to represent the progress made over last season, fortify our platform for the Olympic season and grow the belief they have in themselves and each other."
United States: Kayla Canett; Cheta Emba; Abby Gustaitis; Emily Henrich; Kristi Kirshe; Ilona Maher; Jordan Matyas; Kasey McCravey; Alena Olsen; Ari Ramsey; Stephanie Rovetti; Naya Tapper; Lauren Thunen
Bronze in Toronto was won by Brazil, who remain strong favourites to repeat that having won the South American Championship again
Brazil: Aline Bednarski, Aline Furtado, Bianca dos Santos Silva, Eshyllen Coimbra, Isadora Cerullo, Isadora Lopes, Leila Silva, Mariana Nicolau, Milena Silva, Rafaela Zanellato, Raquel Kochhann, Thalia da Silva Costa.
Argentina and Colombia also return, having finished fourth and fifth in Toronto
Argentina: Mayra Aguilar, Valeria Casas, Jaqueline Corzo, Mayra Ghenghini, Gimena Mattus, Valeria Montero, Andrea Moreno, Florencia Moreno, Yamila Otero, Josefina Padellaro, María Paula Pedrozo, Brisa Trigo
Colombia: Nicole Acevedo, Sharon Acevedo, Daniela Alzate, Catalina Arango, Maria Isabel Arzuaga, Carmen Ibarra, Camila Maria Lopera, Laura Mejía Diosa, Lina Pedroza, Isabel Romero, Leidy Soto, Valentina Tapias
The remaining three teams will be Mexico, who were sixth in Toronto, Trinidad & Tobago, and host Peru.
First round on Friday evening, next two rounds on Saturday. Knockout games on Sunday
Pool A: Colombia v Argentina ; USA v T&T ; Colombia v T&T ; USA v Argentina ; Argentina v T&T ; USA v Colombia
Pool B: Brazil v Peru ; Canada v Mexico ; Brazil v Mexico ; Canada v Peru ; Peru v Mexico ; Canada v Brazil