• By: Chloë Hayes

Sophie de Goede leads team Canada at 2023 Pacific Four Series

ABOVE: Sophie de Goede and Team Canada will host the 2023 Pacific Four Series in Ottawa starting July 8th. (Photo: Craig Butland/Dave Lintott Photography)

Canada’s women’s rugby team is gearing up to face reigning champion New Zealand and rival Australia in the 2023 Pacific Four Series here in Ottawa this July. Behind every great team is a great captain, and Ottawa is thrilled to watch the extraordinary Sophie de Goede and her dedicated players take the field.

Sophie de Goede is a star-crossed leader. Her mother, Steph White, made history as the first woman to captain Canada at a Rugby World Cup in 1991, and her father, Hans de Goede, captained Canada through their first-ever World Cup in 1987.

It is safe to say that de Goede ‘lucked out on the gene pool’, but it’s her unwavering leadership, pure skill and determination that set her apart from the crowd. Looking back at Canada’s Women’s success over the last year, de Goede’s contributions have been unmatched. She is recognized not only as one of her team’s best players but as one of the world’s. At 23 years old, she has a remarkable leadership track record, including captaining Canada at the 2021 Rugby World Cup and being nominated for World Player of the Year by World Rugby.

Competitive at heart, de Goede grew up playing every game she could win. She started playing rugby at five years old and fell in love with the culture surrounding the sport. “You’re literally face-to-face and body-to-body with your opponent. There’s this mutual respect between you and your opposition and teammates,” de Goede said, “The camaraderie is so strong; you’re putting your body on the line for your team. It creates a special bond.”

A strong work ethic is another key quality in a leader. Originally from Victoria, BC, de Goede attended Queen’s University, where she played varsity basketball and rugby. She graduated in 2022 with a Bachelor of Commerce.

Part of a Canadian rugby dynasty, de Goede has her parents to thank as her biggest motivators. She recalls her best moment in rugby thus far the day her mother, former Captain Steph White, presented her very first Canadian jersey. “My mom is my biggest hero, for her success as an athlete and businesswoman, but more so for the network of friends and relationships she has fostered and grown. I thank her for her unrelenting support throughout my life,” de Goede said.

As July 8th approaches quickly, de Goede hopes to hold on to last year’s World Cup Final momentum and carry her team to victory. The 2023 Pacific Four Series will be the first significant rugby tournament held in Canada for eight years, and Canada stands a chance to be the first Canadian 15s team ever to beat New Zealand. “I am so excited about the possibility of making that mark in history,” de Goede said, “I have been invested in this game since I was born, and I really want to see it grow both in Canada and around the world.”

As women’s sports see a rise in exposure and funding both in Canada and globally, de Goede wishes to have more young women and girls exposed to rugby. “I want young women and girls to have the chance to experience the character building it teaches and the diversity it embraces and celebrates,” she said. “Rugby welcomes all shapes and sizes; it could do a lot for their self-confidence and really teach them to love their bodies for what they’re capable of.”

It is evident both on and off the field that de Goede is where she is meant to be. Her accomplishments at her young age paint a positive example for young female athletes looking up to the exceptional women of Canada’s Team. Her love for the game, her team, and inspiring others make her an amazing captain. She loves her team most for their bravery and cohesiveness. “We are a very tight-knit group even while we aren’t always training together. When we come together, we are genuine friends outside of being teammates. We look out for each other,” she said.

You don’t need to be a die-hard rugby fan to enjoy a match like the 2023 Pacific Four Series. The adrenaline on the field is contagious, and the opportunity for Canada’s women to make history is worth the trip to TD Place.

Don’t miss the opportunity to watch Canada at one of their biggest home games yet!

Get your tickets at https://www.tdplace.ca/tickets/