Williams Lake’s Kayla Moleschi is etching her name in another part of Canadian rugby history this week as she laces up her boots with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
It will be the first time women’s rugby has been a part of the Commonwealth Games, and will be Moleschi and Canada’s third-ever multi-sport games as they hunt for another piece of hardware to go alongside their bronze medal from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and gold medal from the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto.
“To be a part of the Commonwealth Games is such an exciting and wonderful accomplishment, and one I could not have done without the support of my family and friends and this amazing team,” Moleschi told the Tribune from the Gold Coast. “It’s the first time women’s rugby sevens has ever been in the CWG and to be a part of another historical moment is such an honour.
“Representing Canada has been a childhood dream of mine and to be able to do it on yet another international stage competing against some of the best at a multi-sport venue is absolutely thrilling.”
Canada enters the Games ranked third on the Women’s Rugby Sevens World Series standings after third- and fourth-place finishes in Sydney and Dubai, respectively.
At the CWG, the team has drawn a tough pool alongside one of the tournament favourites, New Zealand, as well as dangerous outfits from South Africa and Kenya.
Moleschi and Canada arrived at the venue on April 6 in preparation for the Games, which began Thursday evening and wrap up April 13.
“The atmosphere here is similar to that of the Olympics and Pan-American Games,” Moleschi said. “A lot of talented, driven individuals and teams competing for a chance to prove they are the best in their discipline in the world.
“At the same time it’s just friendly faces happy to be doing the things we love every day and soaking up the experiences. Whether it’s sunshine and the culture, interacting with other countries, having some fun in the games room, or listening to live music and chilling in the heart of the village.”
On the pitch, the team has been practicing in preparation since it arrived. Moleschi said Canada put together some solid sessions leading up to Thursday night’s action.
“Today [Thursday] is our final push before the tournament and we are fine tuning our focus and our gameplan,” she said. “We have been prepared for this competition for a while now, we’ve been training hard back home in Victoria day in and day out and pushing our limits each time we step out onto the pitch.
“Excited is an understatement.”
The Commonwealth Games rugby sevens will take place at the 27,500-seat Robina Stadium in Robina, Queensland, Australia.
Canada’s head coach John Tait said he’s assembled a formidable squad which includes captain Ghislaine Landry and Julia Greenshields — both of whom have more than 60 points after just two legs on the HSBC World Ruby Women’s Sevens Series.
“We’re excited for another opportunity to compete at a multi-sport games, even more so with these games as it will be a first time ever and feature the current top three teams in the world,” Tait said. “Selection, for the first time this season, has been extremely tough, with the return of some of our most experienced players along with a few of the younger ones putting their hands up with some really good, consistent play of late.”
Moleschi, meanwhile, said her mindset for the tournament is just like any other.
“Stick to my role and be the fierce player I know I am,” she said. “Be physical in contact and use my strengths to help put my team into the try zone.”
She also wanted to give a shout to Williams Lake for being “incredibly awesome and for supporting local talent.”
“Small towns need to stick together and it’s things like sport, music, art and culture that allows us to connect and grow, not only as individuals but as a community.”
You can catch all the action live on DAZN — a video-on-demand subscrition service — at https://watch.dazn.com.
Thursday’s game starts at 11:30 pm PST, before the team wraps up round robin play April 13 at 2:11 a.m. PST and again at 7:49 PST that same evening.