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Canada looks ahead to Sydney as New Zealand Sevens comes to a close

Rugby 7s Senior Men, Rugby 7s Senior Women

The first stop of the year on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 came to a close in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday, with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team finishing eleventh overall and Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team finishing fourteenth overall.

The first stop of the year on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 came to a close in Hamilton, New Zealand on Saturday, with Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team finishing eleventh overall and Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team finishing fourteenth overall.

It was a tight match-up between Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team and Spain in the ninth place semi finals, with Spain winning 7-0 off a try and a conversion from Claudia Peña Hidalgo in the eighth minute of play. Spain had several close chances in the final minutes of play, but Canada’s tenacious defending kept them at bay.

The team closed out the tournament with a dominant 44-5 win over Papua New Guinea in the 11th place play-off. Bianca Farella opened scoring in the third minute of play, which was followed in quick succession by tries from Krissy Scurfield, Nakisa Levale, Fancy Bermudez, Renee Gonzalez, and Shalaya Valenzuela, as well as two additional tries from Farella. Chloe Daniels added to the score with successful conversions on the tries from Bermudez and Valenzuela. Canada held Papua New Guinea off for the majority of the game, with Barbara Sigere scoring Papua New Guinea’s only try of the game in the twelfth minute of play.

“On Day 2 we wanted to find our structure with our play and stay connected for multiple phases at a time to create opportunities and leave it all on the field,” said Gonzalez.

“Our goals going into this was to re-refine our defence after Dubai and Cape Town. I thought we showed some improvements, but it’s not enough,” said Women’s Sevens Team Head Coach Jack Hanratty. “Our attack took a step backwards, and that’s what we’ll look at in the build up going into next week. The great thing about sevens is that we get another opportunity with a fresh tournament next weekend and we really want to right some wrongs there.”

Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team faced Kenya in the ninth place quarter final, surrendering seven points in the second minute, but responding with a collective effort by Brock Webster and Josiah Morra to move down field. Morra dished the ball off to Webster mere feet away from the goal line, with Webster securing the five points for Canada. With tries in the eighth and fifteenth minutes, Kenya secured the 21-5 win, sending Canada to the thirteenth place semi finals.

Jake Thiel confirmed an early lead for Canada in the first minute of play against Uruguay. Canada and Uruguay exchanged tries throughout the rest of the game, with Morra scoring in the first half and Webster in the second. The difference maker in this 21-17 win for Canada was the conversions, with Webster collecting the extra points for Canada on all three tries and Uruguay just managing one successful conversion.

“On defence we wanted to make sure we’re connected, taking away the space when we’re needing to and choose the right moments,” said Thomas Isherwood. “On offence it’s attacking with intent and sticking to our game plan, and we obviously have some great ball carriers who create space for our fast guys.”

Canada’s final game of the day was the thirteenth place play-off against Spain. D’Shawn Bowen and Thiel helped Canada work its way back from a 12 point deficit in the second half, with Webster and Isherwood adding conversions to give Canada a 14-12 lead. Spain didn’t let up however, scoring two more tries in the last few minutes of play to eventually take a 24-14 win.

Both Canadian teams now head to Australia for the Sydney Sevens, taking place January 27-29. For full results from the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, visit the official website: world.rugby/sevens-series.