X-Women rugby prop Olivia DeMerchant (Woodstock, NB) is currently in California with the Canadian national U20 team, suiting up for the U20 Nationals Cup in Santa Barbara.
DeMerchant, a member of the 2010 CIS national champion StFX women’s rugby team is the lone representative from the Antigonish school. Teammate Tyson Beukeboom was also selected to the U20 team but was unable to attend the tournament. DeMerchant will be entering into her third season with the X-Women this fall. She scored the game-winning try last year in Peterborough in the X-Women’s 17-12 CIS gold medal overtime win over Concordia.
The U20 Nations Cup is taking place July 11-24 in Santa Barbara, CA with the U20 women’s team beginning play today as they meet England in their first tournament game. The Nations Cup tournaments are organized jointly by USA Rugby, the RFUW (England) and Rugby Canada. Two tournaments are held every other year, one for the senior women's national teams and one for the women's Under-20 national teams, with rotating host locations.
Canada will play South Africa on July 17th, the USA on July 20th, with the playoff games slated for July 23rd. The following is an article courtesy of Jeff Hull, Rugby Canada.
U20 Women's Camp Underway
All top-tier national teams undertake some degree of change in the early portion of a four-year World Cup cycle; however, few will have seen such positive results to date as Canada's national women's teams. Following the appointment of Head Coach John Tait to oversee the rebuilding process, the Canadian women assembled last February in Las Vegas for a talent identification camp, at which all of the country's back-row and backline prospects were present.
Although the tournament at which that camp took place was Sevens oriented, it proved an invaluable opportunity for the Canadian management to assess most of their talent pool, as the players were pitted against one another in a week of head-to-head drills and training sessions. The results of that camp were then validated by the achievements of the Canadian women's Sevens team, which finished first at all three of the major Sevens events they attended last season. Younger talent like Quebec's Magali Harvey is already making an impact on the national scene, and the push to identify more prospects is continuing apace.
As the focus moves back to the XV's game, Canada's National Women's League (NWL) enjoyed a successful 2011 season, with several teams, such as Alberta, displaying much improved form and highlighting the wealth of talent that exists across the country. With most of Canada's U20 roster having competed in the NWL's U20 competition, the task of assembling a squad was made that much easier for the next big event on the Canadian women's calendar, the U20 Nation's Cup.
The U20 players who have arrived at Shawnigan Lake School were identified through an extensive process, that involved no less than five regional identification camps, which were put on with the support of the associated provincial unions.
Canada's stars of tomorrow are now taking part in the five-day pre-tournament assembly, before they head out to Santa Barbara, California, to compete against the age-grade teams of England, South Africa and The United States. The camp is being headed up by U20 Head Coach Neil Langevin, who is being assisted by a strong team that includes experienced coaches such as; Beth Barz, John Tait, Brad Skene, Gary Dukelow, Sandro Fiorno and national Sevens team member Jocelyn Barrieau.
Coach Langevin had these words about his camp's opening day:
"Beth Barz and I are looking forward to this week of preparation. With such a physically talented group, we are keen to help these players continue their development from high school, club, university and provincial team programs. The girls will have access to some well accomplished coaches this week and it should be a great buildling block for the Nations Cup and beyond."
The off-field sessions will focus on mental preparation skills, strength and conditioning habits, as well as nutrition. On the pitch, the players will be exposed to drills specializing in decision making as well as individual and team defence, ahead of the Canadian's opening clash with England's U20's, on July 14th.
Updated Canada U20 Roster:
Bailey Danielle Campbell
Anne Chabot Bergeron
Margaret Catherine Cogger-Orr
Samantha Leigh Crandell
Ashley Rose Delaney
Mackenzie Victoria Fane
Bianca Chiara Farella
Abby Victoria Goodwin
Julia Elizabeth Greenshields
Jess Lorene Harvey
Janai Elaine Haupapa
Charlene Laura Mocon
Cindy Louise Nelles
Cassandra Lynne Orr
Gillian Louise Sarah Pegg
Brittany Elizabeth Priddle
Deidre Kirsten Rees
Miranda Christine Seifert
Ashley Samantha Snider
Juhee Lee Thompson
Meagan Brae Vestby
Dakota Charmayne Weir
Tiffany Lee Wideen
U20 Nations Cup Staff:
Neil Langevin- Head Coach
Beth Barz- Assistant Coach
Anne LeLannic- Manager
Jeff Hull - Press Officer
Athletic Therapist - TBA
U20 Nations Cup Match Schedule
July 14th Canada vs. England
July 17th Canada vs. South Africa
July 20th Canada vs. USA
July 23rd Finals & Consolation Finals
*All matched schedule at Harder Stadium, University of California
U20 Nations Cup Schedule:
Thursday July 14 | Storke Field | Santa Barbara, Calif.
4 p.m. - England v. Canada
6 p.m. – USA v. South Africa
Sunday July 17 | Storke Field | Santa Barbara, Calif.
2 p.m. - Canada v. South Africa
4 p.m. - USA v. England
Wednesday July 20 | Harder Stadium | Santa Barabara, Calif.
4 p.m. England v. South Africa
6 p.m. - USA v. Canada
Saturday July 23 | Harder Stadium | Santa Barabara, Calif.
2 p.m. – Women’s Under-20 Nations Cup Consolation Game (3rd/4th)
4 p.m. – Women’s Under-20 Nations Cup Championship Game (1st/2nd)