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Captain De Goede of Victoria leads Canada in women's rugby Test victory over South Africa

Canada, captained by Sophie De Goede of Victoria, recorded a resounding 66-7 victory over South Africa in a women’s rugby Test match Saturday in Madrid.
Canada's Sophie De Goede prepares to take a shot at goal during the women's rugby World Cup semifinal between Canada and England at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Nov.5, 2022. De Goede is up for World Rugby's Women’s 15s Player of the Year award. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photosport, Andrew Cornaga

Canada, captained by Sophie De Goede of Victoria, recorded a resounding 66-7 victory over South Africa in a women’s rugby Test match Saturday in Madrid, Spain. It was Canada’s first game since making the semifinals of the 2022 World Cup in Auckland, New Zealand, as the Canadians took full advantage of a red card issued to the Springboks at just six minutes.

“Our plan and focus was certainly aggression,” said De Goede.

The 23-year-old Islander also captained Canada in the World Cup and is touted to potentially do for the Canadian women’s rugby team on the world stage what Olympic champions Hayley Wickenheiser did for the Canadian women’s hockey team and Christine Sinclair for the national soccer team.

The rugby and basketball all-rounder out of Oak Bay High School comes by her rugby acumen through both nature and nurture. Dad Hans De Goede came out of Vic High and James Bay Athletic Association to twice be named to the all-world XV and captained Canada in the first men’s World Cup in 1987, and is considered a Canadian rugby icon.

Mom Stephanie White was captain in the first Canadian women’s Test match in 1987, played in Victoria against the U.S., and was Canada co-captain in the 1991 World Cup and captain in the 1994 World Cup.

Sophie De Goede’s parents were in Madrid to watch her play Saturday in the first Canadian game against South Africa in 10 years. What they saw again, as in the World Cup, was pure focus on the pitch by their daughter.

“We knew South Africa had a really strong collision dominance at the World Cup and that was something we were going to have to try to match, if not exceed in this game, to come out on top and get the quick ruck ball that we were hoping for,” Sophie De Goede said in a statement.

“I think we did a pretty good job with that, but I think we can be even more dominant with our collisions and our clear outs so that we can create a nice clean ball for our backs.”

Julia Schell joined De Goede as the second player from the Oak Bay-based Castaway Wanderers on the Canadian team for the Test and scored a try.

Former University of Victoria Vikes star Paige Farries is out of Westshore RFC and also scored a try. Fancy Bermudez from Westshore RFC displayed her versatility by making her Test debut in XVs with two tries after representing the Langford-based Canadian sevens team in recent World Series tournaments.

Veteran Tyson Beukeboom is out of Cowichan RFC and also started. Renee Gonzalez of the UVic Vikes came off the bench to score a try on an off-load from Bermudez.

De Goede converted all five first-half tries as Canada went into the break leading 35-0.

“We only got the chance to do two and a half practices before this game. We came five days before the game, so [the plan was] to try a lot of stuff,” Canada head coach Kevin Rouet said in a statement.

“We had a lot of mistakes for sure, but the first half we tried, and we scored a lot of points. We could have scored more, but after just two and a half practices, I’m very proud of them. We know we have to refine all those mistakes, so there’s a lot to work on for sure, but there’s a lot of positives.”

Canada will remain in Madrid to play the U.S. next Saturday in the opening game of the 2023 Pacific Four Series. Canada beat the U.S. in pool play and in the quarter-finals of the 2022 World Cup last fall in New Zealand.

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