The Canadian women’s rugby sevens team heads into the 2022 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season with an overhauled roster and new interim coach.
Meanwhile, with 10 members of the program having retired in recent months and a handful of others sidelined by injury, the men’s squad will be learning as it goes.
Both teams are set to open a new World Series season on Friday in Dubai behind closed doors at the Sevens Stadium. It’s the first of back-to-back events there. The second event, Dec. 3-4, will welcome spectators back.
The Canadian women are in a pool with Fiji, Ireland, Britain and Russia. The Canadian men will play in a pool featuring Olympic champion Fiji, Australia and France.
Live coverage of rugby sevens action from Dubai is available on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app starting Thursday at 11:40 p.m. ET.
It has been 663 days since the last women’s Sevens Series action, with New Zealand winning the Sydney Sevens on Feb. 2, 2020.
Due to the pandemic, the 2021 women’s season was cancelled although the Canadian women took part in two mini-events — in Vancouver and Edmonton in September — with several top teams unable to take part because of travel restrictions.
As it is, New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams, the 2020 Series champions, and the Samoan men won’t participate in Dubai. The Canadian women finished runner-up at the last two events in Dubai.
New beginning for women
The only returnees from the Canadian Olympic team on the Dubai roster are Elissa Alarie, Olivia Apps, Pam Buisa and Breanne Nicholas, who captains the squad. Irish-born Jack Hanratty takes over as head coach.
Those four plus Emma Chown have a combined 51 World Series tournaments under their belt. The other eight will be making their debut on the circuit.
Rugby Canada says Olympic veterans Charity Williams, Keyara Wardley, Julia Greenshields and Karen Paquin were unavailable for selection, either through injury or other reasons.