Canada Ravens team manager and CRLA president, Paul O’Keefe, believes that the debut of the women’s team in the World Cup in Sydney will be a massive benefit to the sport back home.
The Ravens eventually went down 50-4 to New Zealand on their bow, having only been behind 16-4 at the break and, when back-rower Megan Pakulis crossed in the first period they were level with the Silver Ferns, who have won three of the four Women’s World Cups to date.
“After discussions with Nigel Wood and David Collier of the International Federation in December 2015, we expressed interest in developing women’s rugby league in Canada,” O’Keefe said from Cronulla.
“With the exposure of the World Cup, we expect to see women across Canada being keen to try the sport,” he continued. “Our preparation started well and we were able to select a very good coaching staff under the leadership of head coach Mike Castle, who works for the NRL in Australia. With the assistance of valuable sponsors we had the opportunity to start in camp in Queensland and played a warm up game which was a very valuable experience.
“The squad has improved each day and we were really pleased with the performance against New Zealand. Having some experienced representative rugby union players involved in our squad means we have some really talented athletes to work with. Learning League has obviously been their biggest challenge, but we have seen how the sports can work well together to drive overall participation levels.
O’Keefe can already see legacy from the competition.
“We now have players keen to take leadership roles to grow women’s rugby league across the nation,” he confirmed. “Players have come from a wide range of areas so that will help us reach out to many regions. After the World Cup commitments are completed, a strategic plan will be drawn up to ensure this is the start of something great and I can only see positives for the future.”