Canada’s National Senior Women’s team storybook World Cup campaign unraveled this afternoon, as they fell to France 23-8 in London, England.
The match was billed as the hinge of the tournament, as its outcome affected almost all of the 12 nations competing at the Women’s Rugby World Cup, but it most heavily affected Canada.
Canada were knocked out of the semifinals today and as the fifth seed team after pool play, will now face Scotland who finished eighth on
September 1. The winner of this match will play for fifth overall.
The loss to France hurt Canada, but the proverbial nail in the coffin came in the following match when Australia put 62 points on South Africa.
With momentum seemingly on their side after sure wins over Scotland and Sweden, a combination of Canada balking and France typically rising to the occasion amounted to France’s four-try win.
France opened the scoring with an unconverted try, but Canada smartly answered back five minutes later at the hand of Anna Schnell’s foot, bringing the score to 5-3.
The two nations would continue to trade territory and possession, but as the game wore on, Canada picked up a few injuries and were haunted by penalties.
Canada could not convert their chances to points, but France did and the Europeans tacked on three more tries, a few the result of Canada's apparent Achilles: the maul.
Canada’s effort was evident, but any ground they gained was interrupted by uncharacteristic handling errors and miscues.
Head Coach John Long was somber after the match, reflecting the looks on his players’ faces, but was resolute over his side’s accountability for the loss.
“France retained possession and we didn’t, and when they got it, they scored from it and we didn’t. We gave it away after first phase. Our girls tried to make something happen, but just couldn’t.”
Up until today, the senior women’s team was clicking on all levels, on and off the pitch, which adds to the shock of their under performance today.
However difficult, the NSWT still has two matches left in the tournament and will need to rebound strongly to keep their 2010 World Cup performance respectable, as their world ranking for the next four years depends on how they finish.
Even without knowing who their next opponent will be, Long was admittedly disappointed for his team as they had put so much into preparation, but he was unwavering in his foresight.
“It’s like anything in sport. It doesn’t matter if you’re a player or a head coach, you live by it and you die by it. We had set a plan in place and picked players based on that plan, but it just didn’t come to fruition today. Tomorrow, we get everyone together, regroup and move forward.”
Canada has finished fourth at the last three World Cups, beginning in 1998. Having been knocked out of the semifinals, the best they can finish in 2010 is fifth.
Canada will face Scotland at 4.15pm BST on September 1 at Surrey Sports Park in the fifth place semi-final. The other fifth place semi-final is between Ireland and USA.
Tries: Lucille Godiveau (2), Cyrielle Bouisset, Claire Canal.
Pens: Aurelia Ballon.
Tries: Kelly Russell.
Pens: Anna Schnell.
Canada v France – 2010 WORLD CUP – Saturday August 28, 2010 - 2.15pm BST – London, England
1. Leslie Cripps *Captain 2. Lesley McKenzie 3. Corinne Jacobsen 4. Megan Gibbs 5. Paige Burdett Knauf 6. Barbara Mervin 7. Gillian Florence 8. Kelly Russell 9. Julia Sugawara 10. Anna Schnell 11. Maria Gallo *Vice-captain 12. Sarah Ulmer 13. Mandy Marchak 14. Heather Moyse 15. Ashley Patzer 16. Marlene Donaldson 17. Kim Donaldson 18. Heather Jaques 19. Jen Kish 20. Laura Stoughton 21. Brooke Hilditch 22. Cheryl Phillips
Canada NSWT Coaching Staff
John Long Head Coach
Kris de Scossa Assistant Coach
Paul Balsom Strength & Conditioning
Kristy Martin Hale Program Manager
Dr. Rosalind Mullins Physician
Jean (Shaw) Soleyn Athletic Therapist
Melody Lee Massage Therapist
Meghan Mutrie Communications
photos Janos Schmidt