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Kanuk, Braymer ready for the World Cup

Two rugby players with Capital District roots are preparing to take on the world.

Delmar native Melissa Kanuk and Clifton Park resident Claudia Braymer are playing with the United States team at the Women's Rugby World Cup, which starts Aug. 20 in England.

This is Braymer's second trip to the Women's World Cup the premier international rugby tournament and Kanuk's first trip. Kanuk has international experience, though, having played for the U.S. team at the 2008 Nations Cup in England.

"I have a much better idea of what to expect this time," said Braymer. "I was very nervous my first game last time [in 2006], and as a veteran, I hope to bring a lot of calmness and confidence to the rest of the team [this time]."

"There has definitely been a lot of personal sacrifice to reach this point " not only money-wise, but I also had to move to Minnesota in order to keep playing [rugby] at a high level," said Kanuk.

Many of the players on this year's U.S. team play in the league Kanuk is part of " the Womens Premier League. And both Kanuk and Braymer said the impact the 2-year-old league has had is noticeable in terms of the cohesiveness the national team possesses.

"Last time [2006], the team was very talented, but we never came together to play to our full potential," said Braymer. "I think this team is much farther ahead in terms of team cohesiveness, and thus " I hope " our chances are better. I would love to see us make it to the final."

"We feel the most unified as we've felt the last three years," said Kanuk. "We've improved with every competition."

That type of preparation is vital to the United States' chances of advancing out of pool play at the Women's Rugby World Cup. The U.S. is in a pool with two rugby giants, Ireland and England, as well as Kazakhstan.

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