Canada hosting age-grade Can-Am Series in Ottawa

OTTAWA - Rugby Canada announced Thursday a Can-Am Series between the country's under-18 and under-20 women's national teams and USA Rugby's, to be held at University of Ottawa Aug. 1-7.

The USA Rugby Girls High School All-Americans powered by Atavus will face off against their under-18 counterparts Aug. 1 and 5 at Gee-Gees Field, with the AIG Women's Junior All-Americans scheduled for match days Aug. 3 and 7 at the same location. Broadcast and kickoff times will be announced closer to the event, which supporters may attend free of charge.


Both U.S. programs will convene for camps in Arizona at Casa Grande Sports Academy in the weeks leading up to the series. Farrah Douglas' GHSAAs, coming off of a runner-up result to Canada in the Tropical 7s tournament's under-18 division, will assemble more than 30 athletes June 27-30, while Wil Snape's WJAAs will come together for the first time since the winter National All-Star Competition with the Women's Eagles pool June 30-July 3.

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The GHSAAs have held a competitive advantage over their border rival since the program's inception, only losing the two most recent meetings at the sevens tournament in Orlando, Fla. The WJAAs had an off year in 2016 as there were no competitive matches for the program in an AIG Women's Collegiate All-American calendar year. They were last seen at Central Washington University in August 2015, where Snape's team defeated Canada in two matches.

 Paul Rudman

"The NASCs are really invaluable," Snape said. "The opportunities to get all the players together and get them playing each other, getting used to the playing environment; we try to replicate actual competitions as much as possible even though we're not actually playing international opposition."

Two athletes from the 2015 WJAA team have since gone on to represent the U.S. at the senior level - Tess Feury and Asinate Serevi have been capped in international XVs play - while a further nine were selected to last year's WCAA squad that played Canada's senior development side, the Maple Leafs. Seven of the young women that beat Canada's under-20s in the Pacific Northwest had also made their age-grade debuts with the GHSAAs earlier that year.

"The pathway is proving to work," Snape said. "Athletes need to take these opportunities when they come up. We're always trying to communicate the positive message to players that it's about empowering them to improve themselves, and making American rugby better all the time."

Snape will be flanked by former Eagles Katie Dowty and Kittery Wagner on the WJAA coaching staff this summer, a combination with which athletes that attended the most recent NASC will be familiar. Wagner, who was a member of Snape's staff in 2015, has been coaching Women's Premier League side Glendale Raptors, while Dowty has been in charge of the varsity program at Dartmouth College. The connection between the different levels of the domestic game will also be strengthened when Snape attends the 2017 USA Rugby College 15s National Championships at Life University, where 10 of the top women's collegiate teams will be competing.

"I'm hoping to uncover some gems we haven't been considering before," Snape said. "The college game has grown stronger and stronger in the past four years. That's a credit to the coaches."

Visit Rugby Canada's website for more information on the Can-Am Series in Ottawa.