[Photo: Canada's Magali Harvey evades a tackle. Judy Teasdale/RugbyCanada photo]
The Canadian women were all class this weekend at the NACRA 7s. Whereas the men could have finished first or second and still not be “punished,” the women HAD to win this weekend if they wanted to advance to the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens. Even with that weight on the team’s shoulders, Canada 7s coach John Tait fielded a relatively young team, and relied on the veteran leadership of captain Jenn Kish to keep the team cohesive.
Also nudged into this veteran role was Magali Harvey. Two-and-a-half years ago, USA 7s spectators were introduced to this exciting, yet inexperienced, wing with exciting speed and agile feet. Today, she’s a defacto leader who handles the team’s restarts and conversions, while also keeping her healthy try count ever growing.
“It’s amazing,” Harvey said as she reflected on the last two years. “I remember how it felt when I first came in, how stressed I was and how everyone helped me. And now it’s my turn to help everyone and figure things out.”
Part of Harvey’s role was keeping the squad calm. Even though they were leagues better than their opponents, pressure to perform in spite of the boisterous crowd, TV cameras and other distractions could have handicapped the team. In the opening minutes of the final against Trinidad & Tobago, some uncharacteristic miscues occurred during finishing passes.
“That was just nerves,” Harvey said. “Part of the team – five of us – haven’t been practicing together because we’re centralized for five months. During that time, you refine your skills and learn how your teammates play. We’re still adapting; it’s all a process. But in general, we did well. We used that pressure to bring it all together and put on a good show for everyone.”
One of the team’s highlights occurred between Harvey and alternating wings Ariel Dubissette-Borrice and Bianca Farella. The three speedsters team up well in the open field, and all showcase a nice step.
“I know them from before, so it’s nice to not play against them and instead with them,” Harvey reflected on university and club days. “We have a lot of speed, and it’s fun to actually use it to our advantage.”
All of the newer players – like Amanda Thornborough, Lisa Gauthier and Britt Benn, in addition to Dubissette-Borrice and Farella – made good cases for their inclusion in the next selection camp. And it will not be an easy process once the veterans are worked back into the pool.
“It’s a step-by-step process, and we don’t want to miss a step,” Harvey said. “Now that this is done, we’re going to focus on other tournaments, especially the World Cup. It’s exciting. We’re going to push really hard.”