Source: Andrea Cardin - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Canada v New Zealand – Pacific Four Series

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Ottawa, 8 July 2023
Attendance: 10, 092
Result: Canada 21 New Zealand 52

We get a measure of the frontiers still to be broken down: Canada 0 New Zealand 17. That’s the overall historical perspective.

Photo: Andrea Cardin – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

In front of a large supportive crowd the Maple Leafs tried their darndest to stem the Black Ferns’ tide. Both the captain, Sophie De Goede and her deputy, Justine Pelletier, framed their approach to the game defiantly but cautiously. De Goede wanted to take any opportunity that came her way. When the chance of a tap-and-go arrived, she launched herself forward to score Canada’s first try. ‘We wanted to keep them on their toes’. Pelletier wanted to ensure the ‘right mindset’.

Their side did them proud. They forced their opponents into occasional errors, so the margin was only 21-14 at half-time.

The Ferns took control around the three-quarter mark, adjusting their alignments to create gaps in the opposing wall, Then their all-round pace, their knowledge of when to move the ball and when to keep it safe, their strength on contact, meant defences had to work overtime. The effect was seen in the closing stages, as they completed eight tries.

The Maple Leafs can be pleased with their three tries; Fabiola Forteza and Olivia DeMerchant added to De Goede’s early offering.

That leaves an intriguing final bout for the Maple Leafs; they take on the Wallaroos next Friday. After the Wallaroos showing against the Eagles earlier, this might well turn into the tightest game of the series.

Photo: Andrea Cardin – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

And what of the Kiwis?

They were without any number of their 7s stars, disporting themselves in Australia or the USA, yet still they presented a formidable face to the world.

I allow you to imagine the scene at Twickenham in two year’s time, as 82,000 supporters have to watch the Ferns walk off with yet another World Cup. And England led by a Kiwi. It’s hard to imagine what was in the RFU’s mind when it appointed John Mitchell.

Who? Me pessimistic? Never!


Canada (from 1-15)

Olivia DeMerchant, Emily Tuttosi, DaLeaka Menin, Tyson Beukeboom, Courtney Holtkamp, Gabrielle Senft, Fabiola Forteza, Sophie De Goede, Justine Pelletier, Julia Schell, Paige Farries, Sara Kaljuvee, Fancy Bermudez, Florence Symonds*, Sabrina Poulin


16. Gillian Boag, 17. McKinley Hunt, 18. Alexandria Ellis, 19. Emma Taylor, 20. Sara Svoboda, 21. Olivia Apps*, 22. Claire Gallagher*, 23. Shoshanah Seumanutafa

New Zealand (from 15-1)

Renee Holmes, Mererangi Paul, Amy du Plessis, Sylvia Brunt, Katelyn Vahaakolo, Ruahei Demant (co-captain), Arihiana Marino-Tauhinu, Liana Mikaele-Tu’u, Kennedy Simon (co-captain), Alana Bremner, Chelsea Bremner, Maiakawanakaulani Roos, Amy Rule, Luka Connor, Phillipa Love.


Georgia Ponsonby, Kate Henwood, Tanya Kalounivale, Lucy Jenkins*, Kendra Reynolds, Iritana Hohaia, Rosie Kelly, Kelsey Teneti


Referee: Sara Cox MBE (Eng)
ARs: Amelia Luciano (USA) and Jenny Lui (USA)
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (Sco)
with thanks to


The attendance was yet another record. Canada had never seen a 5-figure crowd at a women’s game before. One caveat: this was a double-header, the Wallaroos had just walloped the Eagles.

New Zealand are now the only unbeaten side in the group of four, USA the only one still to register a win. The final round takes place next weekend.

We can safely deduce that the USA will be the team to descend to WXV2, the other three completing an elite six of:

Australia, Canada, England, France, New Zealand and Wales.

When we see them occupying the top six places in world rankings (thank you Capgemini), and then consider the wide margins of victory gained in matches between them, we see the disparities that remain in the game, even at elite level. For example, Wales 3 England 59, Canada 50 USA 17, Australia 0 New Zealand 50, and now Canada 21 New Zealand 52.

Of course there have been tight margins: think of any recent Crunch match and the last RWC final. But the last thing World Rugby wants to see is a series of one-sided victories for its new baby, the WXV.