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Fancy that: Bermudez on Canada beating the Black Ferns

By Adam Julian
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 19: Fancy Bermudez of Canada is tackled by Sylvia Brunt of New Zealand during the 2024 Pacific Four Series match between New Zealand Black Ferns and Canada at Apollo Projects Stadium on May 19, 2024 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Before Canada played the Black Ferns in Christchurch on Sunday head coach Kevin Rouet presented his team with a test that measured their preparedness for unexpected events in the match.

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When the vast majority of players scored highly or even presented alternative theories of possible mayhem Canada was confident, they could upset the World Champions despite having never beaten New Zealand in 17 previous meetings.

Fancy Bermudez was a pivotal figure in Canada’s historic 22-19 upset. The 21-year-old winger scored two tries in her tenth international as Canada wrapped up their Pacific Four Series title.

“It’s massive for the girls to beat the Black Ferns. The response from former players and our supporters has been overwhelming,” Bermudez told RugbyPass.

“We knew the pressures beforehand, a first win in New Zealand, victory in the PAC 4 series. We tried to take that pressure away by focusing on what we could control.

“We were down 14-3 in the first half but that wasn’t a big deal in a long game. We knew if we stayed calm and collected we could get some momentum.  

“My tries were down to big forward pushes with both assisted by Sophie de Goede. We wanted to dominate the physical battle and when we did that, I got opportunities to dot down.”

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Fancy Bermudez Canada

Canada made an astonishing 248 tackles (some sources say 227) with 14 players registering over ten tackles. De Goede topped the count with 27, Pamphinette Buisa contributed 22, and Emily Tuttosi 20.  At one stage the Black Ferns thwarted a 36-phase attack.

“We’ve put a lot of focus on defence on this tour. Tackling is about the will to fight, fitness and patience. To hear those tackle stats is crazy and makes me proud,” Bermudez said.

Defence

101
Tackles Made
247
13
Tackles Missed
38
89%
Tackle Completion %
87%

“New Zealand is a team with multiple threats, so you must front up and unsettle them.

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“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed after Olivia Apps was yellow carded and Patricia Maliepo scored. We didn’t notice any shift in their intensity. They kept coming and that’s what we expected.

“We know we can compete with any team we play. It’s so satisfying to see what we’ve been building coming to fruition.”

Canada was beaten 52-21 in the corresponding fixture in 2023 and was paying $6.50 on the New Zealand TAB to prevail.

A superior kicking game complemented by a sturdy lineout drive, stable scrum, and more efficiency with possession upset the apple cart. Loosehead prop McKinley Hunt (16 tackles) scored Canada’s second try while tighthead prop DaLeaka Menin (15 tackles) was officially named player of the match. The Black Ferns conceded 14 penalties and committed 13 turnovers.

Canada’s win propelled their official world ranking to two. It’s their best position since 2016. Earlier in the Pacific Four Series Canada thrashed USA (50-7) and Australia (33-14). De Goede was particularly imperious in both victories. She scored 18 points and made 21 carries and 14 tackles against the USA. Against Australia, she contributed 24 carries and a dozen tackles.

In the 2023 World XVI Canada knocked over Wales (42-22) and France (29-20). Bermudez scored a try in the French triumph.

“Kevin [Rouet] has made some changes in our program which has allowed the players more input and helped us develop a game plan that better fits our strengths,” Bermudez said.

“We have a collaborative environment where lots of other coaches come in and share ideas. We’ve also aligned the Sevens program with fifteens and that’s important because it means the best players are playing.”

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Bermudez was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. She started playing rugby at junior high school and was identified by Canadian Sevens selectors aged 16. Bermudez has been a regular on the SVNS circuit with 14 tries in 86 appearances. Bermudez scored a hattrick in her Canadian fifteens debut, a 66-7 win against South Africa in March 2023.

Perhaps the only victories in Canadian history to rival the Black Ferns conquering on Sunday are the three wins against England in 2013 and 2016.

In 2016 Canada beat England 52-17 in the Super Series in Utah. Julianne Zussman scored two of the eight tries and Andrea Burk booted 17 points.

Three years earlier, Canada won the Nations Cup beating England 29-25 in the round-robin. Tyson Beukeboom, who made 17 tackles against the Black Ferns, played the first of her record 68 Tests for Canada. Magali Harvey scored two tries. In the final in Colorado, Canada prevailed 27-12 with Harvey matching England’s 12 points.

Bermudez has little time to celebrate Canada’s victory. She rejoins the Sevens side for the SVNS Grand Final in Madrid next week.

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