Rugby World Cup: Maritime athletes help undefeated Canada reach quarterfinals

Undefeated Canada are flying high as they get set to go head-to-head against their North American rivals for the second time in a week at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

The third-ranked Canadians are cruising into Saturday’s quarterfinals with a win of 29-14 over USA in the final round of the pool stages.

Alysha Corrigan is one of the stand-out athletes who earned player of the match at the last game.

“These are things that you dream of,” said Corrigan. “Getting into a quarterfinal at a World Cup and playing your biggest rivals.”

Maritimers play key roles on the team with Alysha Corrigan of Charlottetown, P.E.I., Olivia DeMerchant of Mapledale, N.B., and Emma Taylor of Scotsburn, N.S.

For DeMerchant, the tournament is the latest step on a rugby journey that has taken her to three World Cups, but this trip is special as she earned her 50th cap as a Canadian player.

“Every game for Canada is something exciting,” DeMerchant said. “You should be proud no matter if you have one cap or 50 caps. I think coming to a World Cup is always special.”

Having been on the road for months, Emma Taylor was flooded with messages after Fiona because tattooed on her leg is the famous and beloved Shubenacadie, N.S., tree that was uprooted during the storm.

“It’s definitely even more special now then it already was, but I was really gutted,” Taylor said.

The tournament is special not only for the athletes, but also for the fans – many of whom have travelled from Canada to cheer on the Maritime players and the rest of the team.

The players say the sea of red in the stands acts as the sixteenth player on the field.

“I can’t even explain because it could bring me to tears,” Taylor said. “I get millions of messages before and after every game from back home. It has been phenomenal.”

No matter the results this weekend, Canada will feel the love from half a world away.

Catch the Rugby World Cup Quarter Final against USA at Waitakere Stadium in Auckland, live on TSN 3 Saturday from 8:15 p.m. PT and 11:15 p.m. ET.

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