Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

Kevin Rouet: ‘Winning wasn't necessarily the main objective’

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 19: Kevin Rouet, Head Coach of Canada looks on during warm up prior to 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)

Canada had never beaten New Zealand. The Black Ferns had been unbeaten in 17 meetings since the first Women’s Rugby World Cup on 6 April 1991. Their most recent victory was a crushing 52-21 defeat in Ottawa in July 2023.


That year, Canada had struggled to climb out of a black hole after three straight defeats to England. But the players rallied around coach Kevin Rouet and turned things around, culminating in a 22-19 victory in Christchurch on 19 May 2024. As a result, the Black Ferns have replaced their rivals for second place in the World Rugby rankings.

Pacific Four Series
New Zealand Women's
19 - 22
Canada Women's
All Stats and Data

How did you feel during the match?

“A bit stressed… The conditions were good, but the pitch was a bit slippery and there were a lot of handling errors from both teams at the start. We managed to be in the game at half-time despite a first half that perhaps wasn’t our best. But we stayed in it and had a good 25 minutes in the second half. After that, when you feel you can win, it’s better. We defended a lot in the last 20 minutes but I liked the team. What we lacked was the ability to defend against big teams in big sequences.”

Do you feel that this historic victory has unlocked a door in the team?

“It’s important for us. It was the first time Canada had beaten New Zealand, which had never happened before. Psychologically, it’s important. France had beaten New Zealand, but we’d never beaten them, so it’s important for the girls. I think we were well prepared for the game. We had a good three-week tour. We had a pretty solid squad with a lot of experience and that’s good. It was important in the big moments.”

What has changed in Canada’s game since last year?

“We’re trying a lot more things. We lost to England three times last year. I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to win. And then we changed our strategy, taking it one game at a time. We’re making progress, we’re trying to grow this team, build momentum so that when it comes down to it, we don’t question ourselves. We need to be calm and composed and I think we did that. There were some good things in terms of match management.”


Does this mean that winning wasn’t necessarily the main objective?

“Exactly, that’s what we told ourselves the day before the game. We told ourselves that of course, we wanted to win, but that above all we had to try things, that we shouldn’t be afraid to play against New Zealand because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to. Of course, you always want to win, but in this case, we didn’t want to win at all costs. It was more about learning to play together, growing together and I think that allowed us to play a little more relaxed.”


A win like that means you can look forward to the WXV in Canada with confidence…

“I love it: we’re going to play England, France, and Ireland, so it’s going to be another great run of matches. We’ll probably play one or two warm-up games against some good teams too. It’s true that when you come out of a competition and you win it, you’ve got a tight group and you’re in a good frame of mind. We need to get that spirit back in September. It’s created a good synergy within the group.”

When you knocked France out of third place in the world rankings, did you think you could go higher the following week?

“I knew if we beat Australia by more than 15 points we’d be third, but I hadn’t checked if we could overtake New Zealand. I thought they were too far away. I hadn’t been given the information and I only found out after the game. It’s cool, but we know it probably won’t last. New Zealand play Australia soon and I think if they win they’ll be back in the top spot.


“It’s great for the girls’ morale. It’s always great to say you’re ranked second in the world, but you know it’s fleeting and you can drop back to third very quickly. You’re obviously in a better position when you’re second than when you’re fourth. They’re nice marks, but you know they don’t necessarily last very long.”


That’s a lot of progress in one year…

“Our goal is to compete against the top nations. We beat France last year and now we’re up against Australia, who are starting to develop. It was a very good performance because we dominated for 80 minutes, even if the score wasn’t that big. And to beat New Zealand, who we’ve never beaten before, is very, very positive for the group.”

What was the mood like in the squad after the game, that evening and the next morning?

“At the same time as the win, Tyson Beukeboom became the most-capped player (68 caps, editor’s note), so there was a little ceremony and little gifts around her. It was all about Tyson, then I congratulated them, and the staff and players went their separate ways. We made the most of it, but everything closes early in New Zealand, it’s not like France! Everything closes at midnight and things move very, very quickly. And in the morning, we had a little team activity when everyone was up at ten am. I imagine the night was a bit short.”

What’s the schedule like leading up to the WXV?

“It’s going to be a bit like all the teams, end of August – beginning of September. We were just waiting to find out if we were going to play in WXV 1 or WXV 2; it’s always difficult to organise matches. At the moment we’re talking to a number of teams about playing some friendly matches before the competition. It could be in Europe or right here in Vancouver, Canada. Possibly one match in Europe and one against a team coming to Vancouver earlier.”

Captain Sophie de Goede recently switched from XV to Sevens in preparation for the Olympics. A bit like Antoine Dupont in France…

“We’ve had a bit more movement between Sevens and XV. The number nine [Olivia Apps] and the number six [Pamphinette Buisa] are potential Olympians. My starting nine, for example, is the captain of the Sevens team. We’ve really been thinking about this transfer for the last two years. Even two and a half months before the Olympics we’re moving players between XV and Sevens, we’re talking to each other… We have a really good working relationship.

“In fact, Sophie has only recently started playing Sevens again. She doesn’t have the same role in XV as she does in Sevens at the moment, but I think it’s good for her development. Canadian women often dream of the Olympics before the World Cup. That’s always been the case, we’re a North American country. It’s part of our culture.”

The Women's Rugby World Cup 2025 is coming to England. Register now here to be the first to hear about tickets.


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


Be the first to comment...

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Mzilikazi 1 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

60 Go to comments
Shaylen 4 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

60 Go to comments
Flankly 6 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

21 Go to comments
TRENDING Calls mount for Hoskins Sotutu allegiance switch with 3 possibilities Calls mount for Hoskins Sotutu allegiance switch with 3 possibilities