It’s a special feeling to represent your country and even greater when you put together a dominating win in front of home fans.
Canadian women’s rugby 15s team wrapped up the Pacific Four Series with a 45-7 win over Australia’s Wallaroos at TD Place Friday night.
The win capped an emotional week that saw players enjoy the rare opportunity of playing in front of friends and family.
“We don’t often get huge fanfare and so to feel like superstars here and feel like we’re inspiring the next generation and be inspired by that next generation ourselves has been incredible,” said Canada captain Sophie de Goede.
It was a night to remember for Tyson Beukeboom who not only earned her 60th cap, but scored three tries.
“I mean, they were all team tries,” said a humble Beukeboom. “It was just so exciting to be out there, to be honest, whether I score three tries or not. It’s just such an honour to be able to wear the jersey once, let alone 60 times.”
The Uxbridge, Ont. native was fortunate to have numerous family members on hand to share the experience. The 32-year-old seems to thrive when playing in milestone games. She scored twice when she earned her 50th cap, but she’s not quite sure how she’ll fare if she were to reach 70.
“I don’t know what it is, but every time I hit the 10 or five mark I just seem to get a couple tries,” admitted Beukeboom. “Honestly, it’s more a testament to my team.”
The crowd of 4,081 was loud and supportive when de Goede opened the scoring at the 16-minute mark and continued to show its appreciation to the final whistle.
For Canada’s head coach Kevin Rouet it was important that his team demonstrate its dominance.
“We knew we are top four and sometimes teams like Australia and U.S.A knock at the door and it’s important to say no, you’re not there yet,” said Rouet. “We know Australia is trying to slowly catch up to us and we wanted to make sure they understand we are still above. That was the mindset.”
The home team went on to add three more tries — from Sarah Maude, Beukeboom and de Goede with her second — in the opening half.
Grace Hamilton scored the lone try for the Wallaroos.
Leading 26-7 to start the second half, Canada didn’t take long to put the game further out of reach starting with Claire Gallagher scoring her first international try at the 45th minute. Beukeboom then picked up her second of the game to make it 40-7.
The Walllaroos made things more difficult for themselves when they were forced to play much of the second half down two players after Bree Anna Cheatham and Eva Karpani each took a yellow card, resulting in ten-minute suspensions.
“I think it was that lack of discipline really in the end that let us down,” said team captain Michaela Leonard. “To have players off the field and players out of position isn’t what you want in a test match level game, so it’s definitely something we’ll work on moving forward.”
Beukeboom completed the hat trick at the 68th minute with a dive across the goal line.
Despite the disappointing result Friday, Australia wrapped up the week with a 1-1 record after beating the U.S. 58-17 last Saturday.
“It has been such an incredible experience,” said Leonard. “I’ve been part of the Wallaroos program for the last five years and I think this is the first time we’ve made it to the northern hemisphere. It’s really incredible that the women’s game is growing and having these opportunities to play more quality rugby.”
Earlier in the evening New Zealand defeated the United States 39-17 to finish the series with a perfect 3-0 record, whereas the Americans were winless going 0-3.
New Zealand, Australia and Canada each qualified for the top WXV tier, a new annual global women’s rugby 15s event similar to a world championships in other sports. The U.S. will play in Tier 2.
New Zealand will host the inaugural WXV competition for the world’s top six teams starting Oct. 21. England, France and Wales have already qualified.
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press