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Pool play complete after Day 1 of the New Zealand Sevens

Rugby 7s Senior Men, Rugby 7s Senior Women

The HSBC New Zealand Sevens returned to Hamilton on Friday following a three-year absence, with Canada’s Women’s and Men’s Sevens Teams competing in pool play on Day 1.

The HSBC New Zealand Sevens returned to Hamilton on Friday following a three-year absence, with Canada’s Women’s and Men’s Sevens Teams competing in pool play on Day 1.

For the second tournament in a row, Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team opened with a draw versus France. The game was scoreless through the first six minutes of play, with Olivia De Couvreur striking first for Canada. With a successful conversion by Olivia Apps, her first of many on Day 1, Canada took a 7-0 lead. France gained five points with a try in the eighth minute of play, but Charity Williams immediately responded in kind, increasing Canada’s lead to 12-5. France continued to push, tying the game in the final minute of play.

“Starting the tournament off with a really tough battle, getting some solid tackles in, good competition, really sets us up for success for the rest of the day,” said Apps. “I think it was really good for us to get France under our belt and build that confidence that we’re here to compete.”

Australia got an early start in Canada’s second pool game with a try from Maddison Levi in the first minute. This match saw Krissy Scurfield put her speed on display, flying past Australia’s defence to score Canada’s sole try, with Apps adding a conversion to tie the game in the sixth minute. Australia closed the first half with seven more points, following up with an additional 14 in the second half to win 33-7.

Williams scored her second try of the day in the team’s final match against Japan, with yet another Apps conversion to give Canada a 7-0 lead, which they maintained heading into half-time. However, the Japanese scored three unanswered tries in the second half, along with one conversion, to take the win 17-7. With one tie and two losses, Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team finishes fourth in Pool B, and will progress to the ninth place semi finals.

Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team faced South Africa to open Day 1, with Shilton van Wyk scoring for the Springboks in the second minute of play to take a 5-0 lead. A great effort from Matt Oworu and Thomas Isherwood to gain some ground led to an eventual offload to Phil Berna, who scored to tie the game 5-5.

“I think it was a really nice interplay between the two of them,” coach Sean White said of the play by Oworu and Isherwood. “I think if we can reduce our errors and be a little more clinical in our catch pass, we’ll have more opportunities to do plays like that.”

South Africa ended the game with a 34-5 win after scoring five more tries, including two more from van Wyk to complete the hat trick.

Next up was Argentina, with Elias Ergas scoring first for Canada off a pass from Jake Thiel. Brock Webster added a conversion to give Canada an early 7-0 lead. Two minutes later, Argentina tied the game. A great chance from Oworu almost gave Canada back the lead, but Argentina turned over possession to score another and lead 14-7 going into the second half. Canada came out flying after half-time, with Thiel and Webster combining for a try and a conversion to tie the score. Canada continued to put on the pressure, but Argentina scored three more to win 29-14.

The team closed out Day 1 with a win over Spain, starting with an offload from Isherwood to Josiah Morra and a conversion from Webster to take a 7-0 lead in the third minute. Isherwood continued to make his mark, scoring in the seventh minute. Spain was only able to get on the scoreboard once, with a try from Eduardo Lopez in the second half. Canada maintained the lead to win 12-5. With one win and two losses, Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team finished third in Pool D, and move on to the ninth place quarter finals.

“Amazing to end the game with a win,” said D’Shawn Bowen. “We worked so hard to get there. It was a hard fought battle and I’m so ecstatic to get the W. Tomorrow we’re just looking to just come in with the same energy that we brought to the last game and hopefully come away with a W.”

Canada’s Women’s Sevens Team will play in the ninth place semi finals against Spain on Saturday January 21 at 3:48 p.m. PT / 6:48 p.m. ET. Canada’s Men’s Sevens Team will play in the ninth place quarter finals against Kenya on Saturday January 21 at 12:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 p.m. ET.

Broadcast coverage of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series is available in Canada via CBC. All tournaments are available to live stream via cbcsports.ca, the CBC Sports app, and the free CBC Gem streaming service. Please note that due to matches being played on two fields simultaneously, select matches may not be broadcast.

For the latest scores, results and schedule, visit the official website: world.rugby/sevens-series.