Cowichan Rugby Football Club star Kelly Russell captained Canada to a 4-1 record and a fifth-place finish at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, wrapping up with a 43-12 win over Australia on Saturday.
Russell scored a second-half try as the Canadians ensured their qualification for the 2021 World Cup.
“That was a fun one to play,” Russell said. “We want to play with high tempo. We want use the width of the field and use our speed and we did that today. Australia played really hard and gave us a hard time in those breakdowns, but I’m so proud of the girls and the effort they put out there. The heart was amazing all throughout the tournament.”
Canada’s only loss of the tournament came in pool play as they were defeated by No. 1-ranked New Zealand, who went on to beat England in the championship match.
Kelly Russell was joined in the starting lineup for the final by her sister, Cowichan senior women’s team captain Laura Russell. Tyson Beukeboom, another Cowichan player, came in as a sub in all three pool games, but was absent from the two playoff contests.
The game was the last one for the Canadian women under head coach Francois Ratier, who took the helm in 2013 and led Canada into two World Cups, including a second-place finish in 2014.
“Francois has been amazing for women’s rugby in Canada, building us to where we are (today),” Russell said. “I want to give a big thank you to him. I’m also just so proud to play with every one of these girls and the support from the Canadians here and back home has been absolutely amazing.”