Six months after winning Olympic gold, Heather Moyse is trading in her bobsled helmet for rugby cleats.
Moyse, who teamed up with Kaillie Humphries to win the two-woman bobsled in Vancouver, will lead the Canadian team into the Women's Rugby World Cup Friday against Scotland at Surrey Sports Park in Guildford, England. The 32-year-old winger from Summerside, P.E.I., is returning to international rugby after a two-year absence to train for the Winter Olympics.
The return of Moyse to the rugby field should be a huge boost for the Canadian team, which has finished fourth in each of the past three WRWC tournaments. She was the leading scorer at the 2006 World Cup in Edmonton, finishing one point ahead of Emma Jensen of top-ranked New Zealand, and had the most tries.
Canadian coach John Long included Moyse in the starting 15 for the opener against sixth-ranked Scotland.
Also set to play key roles for the Canadian team are winger Maria Gallo, who was tied for fifth in scoring at the 2006 WRWC, captain Leslie Cripps and flanker Gillian Florence, who has 60 appearances with the national team and will become one of only two women to play in five World Cups. All told, the 26-woman Canadian roster has more than 500 international games to its credit.
"If you look at the 26, they’ve all been in program for a while," Long said. "They’ve all experienced the international level and they’ve all performed well at the international level. Any one of these 26 girls could all start at the World Cup. There is no doubt about that. That to me is the key element and that’s because of the hard work they put in."
Eleven of the starters for the game against Scotland played in the 2006 World Cup. Canada finished fourth in Edmonton after losing to France in the bronze-medal game for the second consecutive WRWC.
Although Canada is the favourite in its first game, Long isn't taking the unpredictable Scots lightly – they knocked off third-ranked France at the Six Nations tournament but also lost recently to the 12th-ranked South Africans.
"Scotland are renowned for the way they play," Long said. "They always wear their heart on their sleeve. They can mess game plans like the best of the teams around the world, so you have to go in with the mindset that they’re going to do everything they can to ensure you are on the back foot.
“We have to be prepared for that; we have to be ready for the whirlwind that’s going to come at us. It’s how we deal with that first 20 minutes that will set the tone for the game."
Canada will also play Sweden Aug. 24 and its nemesis, France, Aug. 28 in pool play.