Kelly Russell puts on a clinic at the Cowichan Rugby Football Club last fall. (Citizen file)

Cowichan players named to Women’s Rugby World Cup team

Russell sisters will be joined by Tyson Beukeboom

Three members of the Cowichan Rugby Football Club’s senior women’s team have been selected to play for Canada at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup to be held in Ireland next month.

Tyson Beukeboom will join sisters Laura and Kelly Russell on the 28-player roster for the World Cup. All three were also members of the Canadian team that won silver at the 2014 World Cup.

Kelly Russell, an Olympic bronze medallist in rugby sevens last summer, will serve as captain of the national team. Laura Russell, meanwhile, was named Rugby Canada’s Senior Women’s Player of the Year for both 2015 and 2016.

“I would say our capacity to respond to challenges is the greatest strength of this squad,” head coach Francois Ratier said in a release from Rugby Canada. “We were hard on players in New Zealand and during the Can-Am Series to make sure they were not in the team just to wear the jersey but to perform in every game.

“They have responded well and we are expecting the same during this tough World Cup.”

Another Cowichan player, Natasha Smith, has been named as a non-travelling reserve. The local connections don’t stop there either, as Shawnigan Lake School’s Gary Dukelow is serving as scrum coach, and Shawnigan grad Nicole Crowley is team manager.

Canada, ranked third in the world, will face Hong Kong on Aug. 9, Wales on Aug. 13 and New Zealand on Aug. 17. The winner of the pool will advance to the tournament semifinals along with the two other pool winners and the top second-place team. All of Canada’s pool games will be shown live on TSN.