Canada’s men bounced back from a tough start at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on Saturday to defeat 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 Canadian men opened the tournament by falling 34-5 to South Africa and 29-14 to Argentina.
South Africa recorded 29 straight points en route to the inaugural Pool D win. The Canadians regrouped and put on a better show against Argentina but conceded three late tries.
The Canadian men will next face Kenya in a ninth quarter-final.
The ninth-ranked Canadian women tied No. 4 France 12-12 and lost 33-7 to No. 1 Australia before falling 17-7 to No. 10 Japan in Pool B play.
Olivia De Couvreur and Charity Williams scored tries for Canada, which led 7-5 at halftime against France. Olivia Apps added a conversion.
A late converted try by France’s Ian Jason pulled the French even after Williams extended the Canadian lead to 12-5.
Krissy Scurfield scored for Canada against Australia, which led 14-7 at the half.
SEE | Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series Hamilton: Canada vs. Australia:
South Africa came to New Zealand second in the overall men’s standings after three contests in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series compared to 13th for the Canadian men, who finished pool play against No. 12 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.
SEE | Men’s World Rugby Sevens Series Hamilton: Canada vs. South Africa:
Elias Ergas and Jake Thiel scored tries for Canada against Argentina, which hammered Spain 20-5 in the opener. Brock Webster added two conversions.
Argentina came out hard but it was Canada who scored first when Ergas landed after a quick push by Isherwood following an Argentine penalty for not rolling away.
The South Americans led 14-7 at half-time after converted tries by German Schulz and Agustin Fraga, with a powerful run by Rodrigo Isgro setting up Fraga’s go-ahead goal at half-time.
Thiel pulled Canada even early in the second half after a beautiful passing game that began with one Canadian inadvertently 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 taking a neat over-the-shoulder pass from Luciano Gonzalez near the Canadian tryline. Fraga surged into the lead after being set up by Moneta, who used his speed as the clock wound down to outrun a Canadian and chase a kick for a final try.
SEE | World Rugby Men, Hamilton: Canada vs. Argentina:
South Africa strike early, often
In the opener, the South African men struck early after Canada were penalized at the breakdown after the opening kickoff. The Blitzboks opted for a scrum and van Wyk drove down the blindside for the try.
Canada responded with a good team try set up by a linebreak from Matt Oworu, who fed Isherwood to keep the play alive. Berna ended the stylish attack and equalized at 5-5.
End-to-end actions lead to a trial in Canada! 🇨🇦🏉
Canada’s men’s rugby sevens teams up against South Africa as the season continues with their first game of 2023 in New Zealand @RugbyCanada
It was all of South Africa after that.
The Canadian men finished 14th in both Dubai and Cape Town after opening the season with a 10th place finish in Hong Kong. After losing to Fiji in the quarter-finals in Hong Kong, South Africa won in Dubai and finished fourth in Cape Town.
The 15th ranked core team after the 10th round in Toulouse in May will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th at the end of the Toulouse event will participate in a four-team relegation play-off alongside the 2023 Challenger Series winners in the season finale in London.
The relegation playoffs will be round-robin format with the top two teams playing a final. The winner will become the 12th core team in the 2024 series, while the other three teams will participate in their respective regional sevens championships to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
Canadian women’s team dealing with injuries
Injuries prompted Canada women’s coach Jack Hanratty to call in reinforcements for the New Zealand tournament. Canada was reduced to eight players on the final day of play last month at the South Africa Sevens, where it finished eight.
Australia won the season’s opening event in Dubai and were runners-up to New Zealand in South Africa.
Maddy Grant and Alysha Corrigan make the transition from the 15s national team. Pamphinette Buisa, part of the Canadian Olympic sevens squad in Tokyo, and Chloe Daniels return to the sevens.
Buisa and Daniels were also part of the Canadian Under-15 team 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 on January 27-29.