Oh Canada! Exciting times ahead for de Goede internationally but for now, her focus is all on Saracens

Sophie de Goede is having a season to remember and it could get even better with a win on Sunday
©Matt Impey – Wired Photos / Saracens

Canadian women’s rugby is riding the crest of a wave right now and Sophie de Goede is at the forefront of all the good things that are going on.

This season, the 24-year-old has turned out for her national side on the HSBC SVNS circuit and, most recently, she captained Canada's XVs squad to an amazing 22-19 triumph in New Zealand in the Pacific Four Series [PAC4] competition.

Their victory against the Black Ferns in Christchurch backed up earlier wins over the USA and Australia to crown them PAC4 champions.

As a result, Canada are up to number two in the world rankings and will be hosting WXV 1 in September and October.

In terms of the sevens, they have the Olympics in Paris later in the summer to look forward to so it is a great time to be a Canadian female rugby player. Their biggest star, de Goede, told TRU: "With Canada, things are really looking up right now with wins against New Zealand in XVs and sevens recently [Canada beat New Zealand in Madrid last weekend] and I am really happy with the direction we are moving in with the national team.

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"It is so exciting and there is so much more to come. I have a really good support system around me and in each environment I have been in this season, everyone has been really understanding.

"For Saracens to allow me to go and play sevens and then PAC4 shows how much they care about individual people that play on the team.

"And then for Canada sevens and XVs to understand what I want to achieve here at the club has been great and I think everyone has worked well collaboratively and it has allowed me so many great opportunities this year.

"I am just trying to stay present and in the moment because there are some incredible opportunities ahead.”

"The quality of the league is really high right now"

The present that back-row de Goede mentions is a Premiership Women's Rugby play-off semi-final against Bristol Bears this Sunday.

Sarries will have home advantage at the StoneX Stadium given they finished second in the regular season standings with the Bears in third.

"The quality of the league is really high right now,” de Goede, who rejoined Saracens for a second spell last summer, stated.

"There has certainly been an increase in the playing standard since I came back and I think there has also been more parity across the league.

"When I was here last time, there were a few more lopsided results and coming back this season there are quality sides to play every weekend.

"That takes it out of you and makes it more tiring, but that is the kind of environment you want to be playing in to prepare best and improve.

"Home field matters quite a bit in this league as each club has great fans and I think our Sarries fans are brilliant. They give us a lot of energy when we are playing at home and whether it is a high moment or a low moment, they find a way to help us get back up and find that energy.

“Having home advantage for this semi-final is really valuable for us as we are 1-1 with Bristol over the season with both home teams having won in the regular season so hopefully we can make that home spot count again and continue that trend.

"You can see how much it hurt the team by not getting to where they wanted to go last season [Saracens lost to Exeter Chiefs at the last four stage], but we have all our internationalists back from the Six Nations and PAC4 and the other girls won the Allianz Cup when we were away so there are good vibes around heading into this weekend.”

“Bristol are a threat from anywhere on the pitch”

Bristol will head to the StoneX as underdogs given Saracens' pedigree in knock-out rugby, but having won the last match 35-10 between the two back in March, the Bears will certainly be a tough test.

"Bristol are a threat from anywhere on the pitch, they will look to play,” de Goede, who started last week's 33-24 victory over Loughborough Lightning, said.

"If they can play from their own ‘22’ they will. You always have to be alive to them and they have a lot of gifted individual players so there are lots of fires to put out across the pitch.

"They are a formidable side and we will have to bring our ‘A’ game at the weekend if we want to progress.

"There is a lot of excitement around going into this weekend. I feel we are peaking at the right time. Everyone in the squad has been riding high as individual players and the way we have been able to come together as a group since those internationals has been really pleasing."