Canada plays its final test match ahead of next month’s Women’s Rugby World Cup when it takes on Fiji on Friday at HFC Bank Stadium in Suva.
The third-ranked Canadians are en route to New Zealand, where they open Pool B play against No. 13 Japan on Oct. 9 (New Zealand time) before facing No. 5 Italy and the sixth-ranked U.S.
Fiji, ranked 21st in the world, is in Pool C with top-ranked England, No. 4 France and No. 11 South Africa.
Canada coach Kevin Rouet calls the Fiji test “our final chance to give valuable playing time to a wider squad and is imperative as our final preparation before the start of the Rugby World Cup.”
Veteran forward Tyson Beukeboom will earn her 50th cap if she comes off the bench.
The Canadian women could move up to No. 2 in the rankings with a win over Fiji combined with a New Zealand loss to Japan by more than 15 points, an unlikely scenario if truth be told given the Black Ferns are No. 2 in the world. Canada will fall to fourth if they lose to Fiji with France the beneficiary.
Fiji will enter the top 20 for the first time since the rankings were introduced in February, 2016 if it avoids defeat against Canada.
The Canadian women are coming off home wins over Italy, 34-24 in July in Langford, B.C., and No. 9 Wales, 31-3 in August in Halifax.
Fiji is 3-2-0 in test matches this year, losing to No. 13 Japan (28-14) and No. 7 Australia (36-19). Its three victories include a 152-0 shellacking of No. 49 Papua New Guinea in the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship in July in New Zealand, the highest-ever score in a women’s test match.
The 12-team World Cup, which runs through Nov. 2 in Auckland and Whangarei, was originally scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
Chloe Daniels replaced Marie Thibault in a late injury-related move in Canada’s travelling 32-woman World Cup roster.