The Red Deer Titans Rugby Club will host an impressive Canada Day celebration.
Four of the world’s top-six ranked women’s sides will clash July 1 at Titans Rugby Park as part of the Four Nations tournament. No. 1 England will take on No. 2 New Zealand at 4 p.m., and Canada, ranked fourth, will tangle with No. 6 United States at 6 p.m.
“No question, it’s a great opportunity for the people of Red Deer to see some excellent rugby,” Matt Tidcombe of Rugby Canada said Wednesdsay.
“Edmonton hosted the women’s World Cup back in ‘06, so Albertans are used to top-flight rugby, to some extent.”
The three-city tournament, also featuring matches June 27 in Calgary and July 5 at Edmonton, will provide entertainment for rugby fans along the province’s main corridor.
“Playing in three different cities is a tremendous opportunity, rather than just picking, say, one of the three,” said Tidcombe.
Canadian national team members Barbara Mervin, Brittany Waters and Maria Samson, who hails from Calgary, visited Notre Dame and Lindsay Thurber high schools Wednesday to promote the event and women’s rugby in general.
Tidcombe couldn’t say if the Four Nations tourney will become an annual event, particularly in Canada.
“I would suggest, though, that in time it might be held every year just because women’s rugby has become so good,” he said. “Canada might not necessarily host on a regular basis, but it could certainly be played in different countries.”
The Canadian side on display July 1 at Titans Park will feature the likes of back row competitor Kelly Russell, one of the premier players in the world, and wing Magali Harvey, who last year was named player of the year for women’s world rugby.
“Fans in Red Deer will see the creme de la creme,” said Tidcombe.