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Canadian women’s rugby sevens squad targets World Series title

Ghislaine Landry, seen in a match against New Zealand in May, is one of of nine veterans remaining from the Canadian team that won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press

Captain Ghislaine Landry leads Canada's 25-woman centralized rugby roster for the 2017-18 HSBC World Rugby Women's Sevens Series.

It's an important season for the Canadian women, with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens in the year ahead.

Landry and former skipper Jen Kish are two of nine veterans remaining from the Canadian team that won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They are among the 15 members of the centralized roster who already have World Series experience.

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The other 10 are seen as the next generation.

"With the start of the new Olympic cycle already under way, it's hugely important to us to get what we currently believe is the core of the team that will be in Tokyo 2020 working and growing together as a group," coach John Tait said in a statement.

"The program has evolved greatly over the last five years and it is gratifying to see the athletes we identified for the Youth Olympics, Youth Commonwealth Games and FISU 7s teams coming through and providing us with some quality depth within this new centralized group."

The five-event World Series starts Nov. 30 in Dubai with subsequent stops in Sydney (Jan. 26-28), Kitakyushu, Japan (April 21-22), Langford, B.C., (May 12-13) and Paris (June 8-10).

The Paris event will mark the finale for both the men's and women's sevens season. The Japanese competition, meanwhile, comes a week after the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April when women's sevens will be featured for the first time.

In July, the focus switches to the Rugby World Cup Sevens at AT&T Park in San Francisco. The Canadian women were runners-up to New Zealand at the last World Cup Sevens in 2013.

Canada was third on the World Series last season behind Australia and champion New Zealand, making three finals and winning in Sydney.

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Canada has finished third over all in four of the five World Series seasons. The Canadian women were second in 2014-15.

Canada also posted tournament wins in Amsterdam (2015) and Clermont, France (2016).

Tait says his Victoria-based team is targeting the World Series title this season.

The other Rio Olympic veterans are Britt Benn, Hannah Darling, Bianca Farella, Megan Lukan, Kayla Moleschi, Natasha Watcham-Roy and Charity Williams. Veteran Ashley Steacy has retired.

The new group is "much more skilled and physically talented" than the one that finished the last quadrennial, according to Tait.

"The returning players will enhance the skill sets and expedite the game understanding of our development players by training alongside them," he added. "My expectation is that those development athletes will in turn push those senior players for selection in the years ahead."

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Landry is one of several who will be hard to budge. She led the circuit last season with 269 points and tops the all-time scoring list with 844 points.

Toronto’s win over the Barrow Raiders on Saturday has secured the Wolfpack rugby league team’s promotion to England’s second-tier competition. Coach Paul Rowley says the world of rugby league “needs to take notice.” The Canadian Press
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