The most explosive sevens player on McMaster’s decorated women’s rugby roster is headed back to the international stage in July.
Ashley Gordon, a member of the Marauders team that won the program’s first-ever Canadian Interuniversity Sport title in 2015, headlines a group of 12 athletes who will represent Canada at the FISU World University Rugby Sevens Championship from July 7-9. CIS announced the roster, along with a coaching staff headed by Ottawa’s Jen Boyd Tuesday (June 28).
Gordon has no shortage of international experience, having won silver at the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China alongside FISU teammate Pam Buisa of Victoria. She and her Canadian teammates will look to defend the gold medal that Canada won at the 2014 event.
Joining Gordon and Buisa are four other CIS medalists from the 2015 season, including Emma Chown (Barrie, Ont.) of Queen’s, and University of Ottawa teammates Sam Alli (Caledon, Ont.), Dria Bennett (Ottawa) and Irene Patrinos (Mississauga, Ont.), who was named a first-team all-Canadian. The team also consists of UVic’s Nakisa Levale (Abbotsford, B.C.), UBC’s Ciara Malone (Vancouver), Montreal’s Arielle Normandin-Leclerc, Guelph’s Julia Schell (Uxbride, Ont.), Erika Scott (Dewitville, Que.) of Bishop’s and Christina Branch (Oshawa, Ont.) of Humber College. Internationally, Branch and Schell represented Canada at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Games, where they finished second at the event.
Guelph’s Cory Hector is the team’s leader. He will be accompanied on the sidelines by Ottawa bench boss Jen Boyd, who will serve as the team’s coach after leading the Gee Gees to a CIS bronze medal this past season. Both have donned the maple leaf in recent years: Hector was an assistant coach at the 2012 FISU world university championship, while Boyd, a CIS coach of the year in 2014, heads into her second season as head coach of the Canadian U20 women’s rugby 7’s program.
Victoria’s Jessica Smith rounds out the group as the team’s medical staff.
“Playing in a tournament such as FISU, on the world stage versus world class competition, is key to building future Olympians,” Boyd said. “The preparation cycle towards Tokyo 2020 has begun and Canada’s sevens coaching staff expects several of these FISU athletes to put their hand up to play in the next Olympics.
“We are a strong mix of carded athletes and those athletes who have made a real impact in the CIS. We have world-class speed and will compete defensively.”