A little piece of Saanich helped Canada defeat England 27-13 to win the IRB women’s Nations Cup title in Denver on Saturday.
Former Velox Valkyries winger Jess Dovanne opened the scoring in the final when she picked up a pass, glided through three England defenders and raced away down-field. The Victoria transplant, by way of Maple Ridge, showed the speed and skill she displayed as part of Canada’s sevens team and out-manoeuvered English tacklers with dummy passes and jukes for a 60-meter run to the try line.
It’s a pretty safe guess Dovanne still has sand in her rugby gear from the “always-in-progress” field of Gordon Head pitch of Velox Rugby Club.
The win is Canada’s first ever IRB Nations Cup title and only its second victory over England in 20 years, both coming at the tournament.
Canada’s other two tries came from Montreal speedster Bianca Farella, the other winger, who was named Rugby Canada’s Youth Player of the Year for 2012-13. Quebec City’s Magali Harvey, playing fullback, converted all three tries and two penalty kicks.
“(We) executed our game plan perfectly,” said Canada’s head coach Francois Ratier through Rugby Canada. “We knew the type of game we needed to play to defeat England and I could not have asked for a better performance.”
Ratier also credited everyone behind the women’s program at Rugby Canada’s Centre of Excellence in Langford.
It’s part of another monumental year for the Langford-based women’s program as the sevens team finished third in the IRB Women’s Sevens Series standings and won silver at the 2013 Sevens World Cup in Moscow.
The Canadian U20 women rolled through the Junior Nations Cup last month, undefeated with wins over South Africa, England and U.S.A.