Canada were runners-up at RWC Sevens 2013, but slipped short of that mark in San Francisco earlier this year. Ghislaine Landry was at the heart of their run to the final in Moscow, scoring a try in the 29-12 loss to New Zealand in the title decider, and remains a pivotal figure with Canada a much different proposition when their talisman and captain is missing. Canada have a settled squad with a strong backbone of experience and dynamic runners like Bianca Farella, Julia Greenshields and Charity Williams who can strike from anywhere. John Tait’s side had a mixed time in 2018, from winning bronze medals in Sydney and Paris to failing to reach the Cup quarter-finals for the first time in series history in Kitakyushu, to finish fourth in the series standings, their lowest ever ranking – a scenario which makes them even more dangerous on the RWC Sevens stage. Looking to improve during October competition in Glendale, the Canadian side were placed seventh overall after July’s RWC tournament in San Francisco.
Fiji’s women, just like their men’s team, are a joy to watch when everything comes together and the simple tactic of offloading out of tackles and creating space for others results in some mesmerizing, often long-range, tries. Fijiana struggled to find their form in the early rounds of the season, having enjoyed their best-ever series in 2016-17 to finish fourth and raise levels of expectation back home, but sixth place finishes in Kitakyushu and Paris suggest that coach Iliesa Samusamuvodre is once again getting the best out of his players. Led by captain Ana Maria Roqica and with try-scoring threats like Luisa Basei Tisolo and Ana Maria Naimasi, a Fijian side playing with freedom and a smile on their faces will be a welcome sight for their vocal supporters.
France have long had the potential to challenge for titles but had never managed to discover the magic formula until this year, when Les Bleues reached their first-ever series Cup final in Kitakyushu only to fall to New Zealand. The David Courteix-coached team showed that it was no flash in the pan by reaching the semi-finals in Langford and Paris to claim the series bronze medal for the first time – a big improvement on seventh the previous year. The team saw further improvement in San Francisco earlier this year, taking second place overall in a loss to New Zealand in the tournament championship.
Ireland have made steady improvement over the last three years as a result of their core team status on the world series, but often find themselves missing out on a quarter-final place by small margins to leave them battling for Challenge Trophy honors instead. They won the Trophy twice – in Dubai and Paris – and were runners-up in Kitakyushu where they impressively beat Canada. Led by Lucy Mulhall, Ireland have a lethal finisher in Amee Leigh Murphy Crowe who has pace to burn and the confidence to back herself in any situation. The likes of Stacey Flood and Hannah Tyrrell add plenty of experience, while youngster Eve Higgins is one of an exciting crop of players who have a bright future ahead of them.