Canada’s men bounced back from a rocky start to the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on Saturday, beating Spain 12-5 for their first win of the tournament in Hamilton, New Zealand.
Josiah Morra and Thomas Isherwood scored the tries for Canada, while Brock Webster added a conversion.
The Canadians opened the tournament losing 34-5 to South Africa and 29-14 to Argentina.
South Africa recorded 29 consecutive points en route to an opening Group D victory. The Canadians regrouped and had a better game against Argentina but conceded three late tries.
The Canadian men will face ninth-ranked Kenya in the quarterfinals.
The ninth-ranked Canadian women drew with No. 4 France 12-12 and lost 33-7 to No. 1 Australia before falling 17-7 to No. 10 Japan in Group B.
Olivia De Couvreur and Charity Williams scored tries for Canada, who led 7–5 at half-time against France. Olivia Apps added a conversion.
A late conversion attempt by Frenchman Ian Jason pulled the French back even after Williams extended the Canadian lead to 12–5.
Krissy Scurfield scored for Canada against Australia, who led 14–7 at halftime.
WATCH | Hamilton Women’s Rugby World Series Sevens: Canada v Australia:
South Africa arrived in New Zealand second overall in the men’s standings after three events in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, compared to the 13th-placed Canadians, who finished pool play against 12th-placed Spain.
Shilton van Wyk scored three tries, while Selvyn Davids, Christie Grobbelaar and Shaun Williams added singles for South Africa, who led 19–5 at half-time. Ricardo Duarttee kicked two conversions.
Captain Phil Berna scored Canada’s only try.
WATCH | Hamilton Men’s Rugby World Series Sevens: Canada v South Africa:
Elias Ergas and Jake Thiel scored tries for Canada against Argentina, who defeated Spain 20-5 in their opener. Brock Webster added two conversions.
Argentina came out hitting hard, but it was Canada who scored first when Ergas landed after a quick touch from Isherwood following an Argentine penalty for not rolling.
The South Americans led 14-7 at half-time after converted attempts by German Schulz and Agustin Fraga, with a powerful run by Rodrigo Isgro setting up Fraga’s goal for the break.
Thiel pulled Canada through early in the second half after a fine passing move that started with a Canadian accidentally kicking the ball to another after an Argentine knock-on.
Marcos Moneta, the 2021 World Rugby’s Men’s Sevens Player of the Year, put Argentina ahead 19-14 after collecting a beautiful over-the-shoulder pass from Luciano Gonzalez near the Canadian test line. Fraga extended the lead after being set up by Moneta, who used his speed with the clock stopped to pass a Canadian and chased a shot for a last try.
WATCH | Hamilton Men’s World Rugby Sevens Series: Canada v Argentina:
South Africa strikes early, often
In the opener, the men of South Africa scored early on after Canada was penalized at half-time after kickoff. The Blitzboks opted for a scrum and van Wyk ran down the blindside for the try.
Canada responded with a good team try set up by a Matt Oworu linebreak that powered Isherwood to keep the game alive. Bern capped off the elegant attack to level at 5-5.
End-to-End Action Leads to a Canada Attempt! 🇨🇦🏉
Canada men’s national rugby sevens team draw against South Africa as season continues with their first game of 2023 in New Zealand @RugbyCanada
It was all of South Africa after that.
The Canadians finished 14th in Dubai and Cape Town after opening the season with 10th in Hong Kong. After losing to Fiji in the Hong Kong Quarter Finals, South Africa won in Dubai and finished fourth in Cape Town.
The top team ranked 15th after the 10th matchday in Toulouse in May will be relegated. Teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th at the end of the Toulouse event will participate in a four-team relegation playoff along with the 2023 Challenger Series winner at the final stop of the season in London.
The relegation playoff will be in round-robin format with the top two teams playing in a final. The winner will become the 12th top team in the 2024 Series, while the other three teams will enter their respective Regional Sevens Championships to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
Canadian women’s national team dealing with injuries
Injuries prompted Canada women’s coach Jack Hanratty to call up reinforcements for the New Zealand tournament. Canada were reduced to eight players on the final day of play last month in the South Africa Sevens, where they finished eighth.
Australia won the season opening event in Dubai and were runners-up to New Zealand in South Africa.
Maddy Grant and Alysha Corrigan transition from the 15-year-old national team. Pamphinette Buisa, part of the Canadian Olympic sevens team in Tokyo, and Chloe Daniels return to the sevens roster.
Buisa and Daniels were also part of the Canadian 15-year-old squad at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, where Canada finished fourth in November.
After New Zealand, the Canadian men and women head to Australia for the HSBC Sydney Sevens January 27-29.