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Veteran Tyson Beukeboom set to enter rugby record book as Canada faces Wallaroos

Forward Tyson Beukeboom is set to enter the Canadian rugby record book Saturday. Named in the starting lineup for fourth-ranked Canada against No.
Canada's Tyson Beukeboom (right) celebrates a try with teammate McKinley Hunt during second half rugby action at the Pacific Four Series in Ottawa on Friday, July 14, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Forward Tyson Beukeboom is set to enter the Canadian rugby record book Saturday.

Named in the starting lineup for fourth-ranked Canada against No. 5 Australia in Pacific Four Series play at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, Beukeboom will tie Gillian Florence as Canada’s all-time women’s caps leader with 67.

Florence played in five World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and was the first woman inducted into the Rugby Canada Hall of Fame, in the Class of 2017.

Rugby Canada's annual senior women’s player award is named in Florence’s honour. The award goes to the “player who best represents the qualities of Canadian rugby as voted by her teammates.”

"I try to focus on the rugby but it is a really cool and surreal and awesome thing," Beukeboom said of tying Florence.

The 33-year-old Beukeboom has done it the hard way, putting her body on the line for her country. The second-row forward, listed at 5-11 and 178 pounds, is a powerful ball-carrier and hard-nosed tackler.

A native of Uxbridge, Ont., she now makes her home on Vancouver Island where the Canadian team is based. 

Beukeboom won her first cap in July 2013 against England in Denver. Canada won 29-25, marking its first-ever victory over the Red Roses.

After Saturday, the Canadian women head to Christchurch to take on the World Cup champion New Zealand Black Ferns, currently ranked second in the world, on May 19 in Christchurch.

Canada downed the 10th-ranked United States 50-7 on April 28 in Carson, Calif., in the tournament opener.

New Zealand hosts the U.S. on Friday in Hamilton.

For the second year in a row, the Pacific Four Series will serve as a qualifier for WXV 1, with the top three teams advancing to the elite tier of the three-division WXV tournament. The WXV 1 will also feature No. 1 England, No. 3 France and No 9 Ireland, the top three sides from the recent Women's Six Nations Championship.

Canada was runner-up at last year's Pacific Four tournament, defeating the U.S. 50-7 in Madrid before coming home to Ottawa where it downed Australia 45-7 and lost 52-21 to New Zealand in front of a Canadian women's record crowd of 10,092 at TD Place

Centre Alex Tessier is set to earn her 50th cap Saturday, becoming just the eighth Canadian woman to reach the milestone.

Coach Kevin Rouet has made three changes to the starting 15 that beat the U.S. with prop McKinley Hunt, centre Fancy Bermudez and fullback Sarah-Maude Lachance slotting into the lineup.

Olivia DeMerchant, Shoshanah Seumanutafa and Sabrina Poulin drop to the bench.

Beukeboom spent time as a support care worker in a group home in Duncan, B.C., working with kids with special needs, but has put that on hold to focus on rugby. 

She is in her first season playing for Trailfinders Women, which currently stands sixth in England's Allianz Premiership at 4-8-0. 

"It's a really good group of girls and we get along really well" she said. "We're having fun playing together."

Fellow Canadians Julia Schell and Cassandra Tuffnail also play for Trailfinders. In all 17 members of Canada's matchday 23 are playing their club rugby abroad.

"Our goal is to win Pac Four," said Beukeboom. "I don't think we've ever had a different plan. But I think this year we're definitely in a really good position to be able to perform and make that goal come to fruition."

A former flanker, Beukeboom says her game has changed since moving to lock.

"I always really enjoyed defence and I really enjoyed making big tackles. But on the offence side, I definitely was a little bit more inclined to the flash and the flair as a back-row (forward)," she said. "So the more gritty part of my offensive game, Ive definitely had to develop.

"The beginning of that development, it wasn't my favourite part. But I've kind of realized through my career that I would rather be the player that helps my team and does my job well than the player that everyone notices."

 Rouet, for one, still notices. He calls Beukeboom a "very good rugby player."

"She's exactly what I'm looking for in a forward," he added.

Canada Roster

McKinley Hunt, King City, Ont., Saracens (England); Sara Cline, Edmonton, Western Force (Australia); DaLeaka Menin, Vulcan, Alta., Exeter Chiefs (England); Tyson Beukeboom, Uxbridge, Ont., Ealing Trailfinders (England) ; Laetitia Royer, Loretteville, Que., ASM Romagnat  (France); Pamphinette Buisa, Gatineau, Que., Ottawa Irish; Sophie de Goede (capt.), Victoria, Saracens (England); Gabrielle Senft, Regina, Stade Bordelais (France); Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., Lindsay RFC; Claire Gallagher, Caledon, Ont., Leicester Tigers (England); Paige Farries, Red Deer, Alta., Saracens  (England); Alexandra Tessier, Sainte-Clotilde-de-Horton, Que., Exeter Chiefs (England); Fancy Bermudez, Edmonton, Westshore RFC; Maddie Grant, Cornwall, Ont., Cornwall Claymores; Sarah-Maude Lachance, Victoriaville, Que., Stade Bordelais (France).  


Emily Tuttosi, Souris, Man., Exeter Chiefs (England); Brittany Kassil, Guelph, Ont., Guelph RFC; Alexandria Ellis, Ottawa, Stade Français Paris (France); Courtney Holtkamp, Rimbey, Alta., Red Deer Titans Rugby; Fabiola Forteza, Quebec City, Stade Bordelais (France); Justine Pelletier, Riviere-du-Loup, Que., Stade Bordelais (France); Julia Schell, Uxbridge, Ont., Ealing Trailfinders (England); Shoshanah Seumanutafa, White Rock, B.C., Chiefs Manawa (New Zealand).


Brianna Hoy, NSW Waratahs; Tania Naden, ACT Brumbies; Bridie O'Gorman, NSW Waratahs, Kaitlan Leaney, NSW Waratahs; Michaela Leonard (capt.), Western Force; Siokapesi Palu, ACT Brumbies; Ashley Marsters, Melbourne Rebels; Piper Duck, NSW Waratahs; Layne Morgan, NSW Waratahs; Arabella McKenzie, NSW Waratahs; Desiree Miller, NSW Waratahs; Trilleen Pomare, Western Force; Georgina Friedrichs, NSW Waratahs; Maya Stewart, NSW Waratahs; Lori Cramer, Queensland Reds.


Hera-Barb Malcolm Heke, Western Force; Sally Fuesaina, ACT Brumbies; Eva Karpani, NSW Waratahs; Atasi Lafai, NSW Waratahs; Leilani Nathan, NSW Waratahs; Tabua Tuinakauvadra, ACT Brumbies; Samantha Wood, Western Force; Faitala Moleka, ACT Brumbies.


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press