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Canada gets historic women's rugby victory

Canadian players jubilate with the Emirates Cup after defeating England in the final game of the Women's Sevens World Series in Dubai, on December 3, 2011. Canada won 26-7. Getty Images/MARWAN NAAMANI

MARWAN NAAMANI/Getty Images

Canada has made history in women's rugby, claiming the first ever IRB Women's Sevens Challenge Cup.

The Canadians produced a display of pace and power to beat England 26-7 and capture the title at the eight-team tournament Saturday, propelling Canada to the top of the world women's sevens rankings.

"I love captaining these girls," said Canada's captain Mandy Marchak. "I have played with most of these girls for seven or eight years now. We all could not be happier. One of the most exciting things though for us is that we all fee we have so much more to give.

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"We have improved, but we know that we can all get a lot better from here."

The Canadians went a perfect 5-0 through the tournament that was the first IRB-sanctioned women's sevens event. It was played alongside the men's event of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

England scored first in Saturday's final before Edmonton's Jenn Kiss and Ghislaine Landry of Toronto replied with a try apiece to give Canada a 14-7 halftime lead.

Marchak, a Vancouver native, powered past multiple England defenders to put Canada up 19-7, then Ashley Steacy of Lethbridge, Alta., gathered up her own kick to sprint across the line for the game's final try.

The title was the fifth this season for Canada's women's sevens team.

Canada had proved far too strong for rival United States in the semifinals earlier in the day, crushing the Americans 36-0.

Cheryl Phillips of Toronto led Canada with two tries, while Landry, Marchak, Brittany Waters of Vancouver and Kayla Moleschi of Williams Lake, B.C., added one apiece.

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Men's and women's rugby sevens will be on the Olympic program at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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