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Island players instrumental as Canada scores historic women's rugby win over New Zealand

The Canadian women’s rugby team is captained by Sophie de Goede of Victoria

The Langford-based Canadian women’s rugby team, captained by Sophie de Goede of Victoria, recorded the greatest victory in its history Sunday by rallying to beat the defending World Cup-champion New Zealand Black Ferns 22-19 in Christchurch.

Fancy Bermudez of Westshore RFC scored two tries for Canada. Former University of Victoria Vikes stars Paige Farries and Pamphinette Buisa, and Julia Schell and Gabrielle Senft of the Castaway Wanderers, also started as Canada overcame a 14-10 half-time deficit to beat the Kiwis for the first time after 17 losses.

“I don’t think it’s quite sunk in, but it’s really special to achieve something that’s history, for the first time,” said de Goede, who was a two-sport rugby and basketball star at Oak Bay Secondary.

“We did a really good job of not thinking too much about the history that we could create, but just thinking about the present moment and what the next play was. I’m really proud of the way that we continued to rebound after every single play and find a way to win. Being calm and being cool, that’s been something we’ve been talking about all week.”

The enormity of the achievement will take a while to comprehend as Canada moved to No. 2 in the world rankings behind England.

“I still don’t have words for it. It hasn’t sunk in yet. We’ve hit so many milestones tonight,” said Canadian player Tyson Beukeboom out of Cowichan RFC, who recorded her 68th cap, to become Canada’s all-time appearances leader.

“We knew we could do it. We just had to go out on the field and put the game down, and we did, and I think proud is probably the best word at the moment,” she added, in a statement.

The result gave Canada the Pacific Fours Series championship after wins this month over Australia, 33-14 in Sydney, and the U.S., 50-7 in Carson, California.

The versatile de Goede also plays sevens rugby and will now turn her attention to representing Canada in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games this summer. The genes don’t hurt. Dad Hans de Goede came out of Vic High and the 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. Mom Stephanie White was Canada co-captain in the 1991 women’s World Cup and captain in the 1994 World Cup. Their daughter now carries on the family legacy, from Christchurch on Sunday to Paris this summer.

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