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Rugby star Harvey impresses soccer, CFL players during demonstration event

MONTREAL — Canadian rugby star Magali Harvey got to show off her sport to some pro athletes on Wednesday and they came away impressed.

"This was the first time to learn the rules, the principles of passing the ball, the techniques," said Montreal Impact midfielder Patrice Bernier. "It was interesting."

Montreal Alouettes defensive end John Bowman also got a taste of it as Harvey, named the top player in world women's rugby in 2014, eluded his grasp repeatedly in one-on-one drills.

Harvey was promoting rugby sevens, a sport Canadian women excel at even if they are not as well-known as they ought to be.

So she got on an indoor field with the two pro athletes and members of the Quebec women's squad to show what it's about.

"It's a backward thing," said Bernier, who also played major junior hockey before turning pro in soccer. "Everything is about backwards or sideways passing.

"You want to go toward the net in other sports. But there are similarities. It gives you a new perspective in terms of strategy."

Harvey was impressed with them as well.

"You can definitely see they're athletic," she said. "They catch on pretty fast but you can see it's a different style.

"They read the game well but it's a different type of step in rugby."

Harvey, 25, was on a Canadian team that won gold in rugby sevens at the Pan Am Games in Toronto this year and will likely be a key member of the squad when women's sevens debuts at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next summer.

But the Quebec City native's biggest moment was at the women's World Cup in 2014, where 15-player squads played rugby union. She led the team with 61 points as Canada reached the final, losing to England. She was later named women's player of the year by the International Rugby Board.

"I'm in a position where I score a lot so it gets me lots of attention, but every player on the team has a role to play," she said. "We have an amazing team and, on a good day, we can beat the world.

"Now we have to do it on a bad day too. A game is only 14 minutes. You need to show up for every minute of every game."

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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