Canada made an entertaining start to WXV 1 with a 40-22 win over Wales, but smiles were in short supply post-match. While coach Kevin Rouet was pleased with the result, he felt that his side should have dealt with a plucky opponent much earlier in the game.
“I think we should have finished way before we did,” he told media at Sky Stadium in Wellington after the game.
“We gave them hope they could win this game and – I don’t know the word – killed the game in the first half. We scored 40 points but we should have done a better job.”
Canada captain Sophie de Goede, who scored her side’s first try and was flawless off the kicking tee with six conversions, gave credit to the Welsh, who stuck with the Canadians to only trail by four points at halftime.
“I also give credit to Wales,” she said.
“They had some good moments, they were physical. I’m pretty happy with the way we matched them in defence, but discipline hurt us. Scrums were a bright moment but lineouts weren’t. It’s always nicer to learn from a win, so we’ll take that.”
De Goede said that the pace of the game often frustrated her side.
“It was getting slow. As leaders we needed to inject more tempo into the game, whether that was through a quick tap or a faster set to a lineout. We’ll take momentum through to the next game.”
Rouet said that Wales made his side work hard for all six of their tries, all of which came from close range.
“Yeah, they frustrated us especially close to their goal line. We didn’t finish and they defended well, so I give them a lot of credit for that, but we have a lot to work on.”
Canada came into the game after meeting England twice in the lead up, something that de Goede said had prepared them well.
“I think our last two games against England, we started off being down two tries. So we wanted to get off to a better start in this game. So we’re happy to put points on the board first, but to use a basketball analogy when you get a score you want to get a stop. We let them back in before we got another score, so we want to go score-score back to back. Ideally, we never let them in, though.”
Canada now move on to face England again this weekend as WXV 1 moves south to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. The only roofed rugby ground in New Zealand has a famously fast track and a reputation for producing entertaining games, a setting that Rouet says will benefit his side in the long run.
“For us, it’s important because we have a lot of athletes that are new. So they need to get experience two years out from a World Cup, it’s a mix, we want to win for sure, but we want to give experience to our new players so they can express themselves on the pitch.”
De Goede is looking forward to the challenge that England pose, and agrees with Rouet’s sentiments about the future benefits of the WXV tournament.
“It feels great to be in NZ, it’s really cool to be in a rugby playing nation. When you talk about the significance of this tournament in the scope of Canadian women’s rugby specifically, it’s huge. Just for visibility, it’s getting broadcast live back home. So many women and girls have been messaging me saying they’ll be tuning in, so while it’s just incredible for our team right now, I’m really excited about the long-term effects it will have for women’s rugby. It’s only going to help us grow.”