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'England's the higher ranked team': Canada not feeling the pressure before RWC semi-final

By Finn Morton
Sophie de Goede of Canada runs the ball during the Pool B Rugby World Cup 2021 match between Canada and the United States at Waitakere Stadium on October 23, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Canada captain Sophie de Goede believes the “pressures not on us” ahead of a blockbuster World Cup semi-final with England, who are on a 29-Test win streak.

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The Red Roses have well and truly stamped their ascendency on women’s rugby, and have been tipped by many to win the World Cup in New Zealand.

England started their international 2021-22 season with two dominant victories over reigning world champions New Zealand.

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After winning 43-12 in the first meeting between the two traditional rugby rivals, the Red Roses went up another gear in their second Test in Northampton – beating New Zealand 56-15.

Throughout the World Cup England have continued to impress after going undefeated in pool play, including a match against France, and later beat Australia 41-5 in their quarter final.

But standing in England’s way of another World Cup final appearance is Canada, who have a “really strong belief” that they can snap the Red Roses’ win streak.

“We have some women on the team that have played in a World Cup semi-final before, and even a World Cup final, so definitely relying on those players and their expertise and experience,” de Goede said.

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“Obviously there’s pressures of a World Cup (semi) final, but externally the pressures not on us this week. England’s the higher ranked team, they’re on a 29-game winning streak.

“Within our group there’s just a really strong belief. We’ll put pressure on ourselves because we know we can perform even better than what we have been doing.

“But externally we’re pretty comfortable with where we’re at and how we’re gonna perform this weekend so it’s more easy to stay grounded.”

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Other than a close 13-7 win over fellow semi-finalists France in pool play, England haven’t really been tested during this World Cup.

They’ve scored 213 points during their four matches so far, including an emphatic 75-0 win over South Africa.

As for Canada, they’re also undefeated through four games, but haven’t scored nearly as many points as their opponents this weekend.

The last 29 teams to try and beat England have failed, and while de Goede appears confident, she refused to share many “tricks of the trade.”

“They have a very strong scrum, a very strong maul, set-piece, lineout platform, and a good kicking game,” she added.

“If we can at least match in those areas, I think that’ll put us in a good place.

“There’s no recipe and no one’s gotten it right over 29 games so hopefully we can come up with something on Saturday that is a bit of a different picture to what other teams have shown.”

Canada have been tested on their way to the World Cup semi-finals – beating Italy and rivals the United States in tough matches during pool play.

The World No. 3 took on the USA again in their quarter-final, and managed to pull away with a dominant second half to register a 32-11 win.

Head coach Kevin Rouet is confident that his team can create some history and beat England this weekend, as he’s seen them improve with every match.

“We want to be efficient with the basics for sure. The scum, the lineout, the kicking game, and we know if we could challenge them on that we could open the game for us,” Rouet said.

“Scrum, lineout that’s the basics for sure for a game, just to be efficient if you want to win a game, and the kicking game also.

“We know England is very good at that, and after that if we open the game with that, we have a lot of stuff to show.

“I’m just happy for the girls because they just worked so hard over the past even six months, leaving their jobs just to be there and just doing a lot of stuff.

“Every game we improve and that’s where we are right now. I think we totally can beat England for sure.”

Canada will look to snap England’s record-breaking winning streak in the first semi-final at Eden Park on Saturday, before the Black Ferns take the field against France for the second spot in the final.

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