Canadian men one loss away from relegation from elite rugby sevens circuit | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Canadian men one loss away from relegation from elite rugby sevens circuit

Canada’s Matt Percillier (left) and Jack Carson celebrate a try against Germany on Day 1 of the HSBC SVNS Grand Final at Stadium Civitas Metropolitano in Madrid on Friday, May 31, 2024. The Canadian men need a win Sunday to avoid relegation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-KLC fotos for World Rugby-Mike Lee **MANDATORY CREDIT**
Original Publication Date June 01, 2024 - 8:51 AM

MADRID - Canada's men face an uphill battle to avoid relegation from the HSBC SVNS circuit after finishing bottom of its group Saturday.

After losses to Uruguay and Germany on Friday, Canada was beaten 14-7 by the U.S. on Saturday to finish fourth in Qualifier Pool A. They play unbeaten Spain, the Pool B winner, on Sunday with relegation from the 12-country elite rugby sevens series at stake.

It won't be easy. Spain won all four meetings with Canada this season and looked rampant in dispatching Samoa 31-0 on Saturday.

While Canada's men fight for survival, the Canadian women had a banner day. They reached the semifinals of the eight-team championship bracket after upsetting Series leader New Zealand 26-17 and beating Britain 22-17 in extra time.

No. 5 Canada meets No. 3 France in one semifinal while No. 2 Australia faces No. 1 New Zealand in the other.

Canada's men have lost 28 straight since a 33-17 victory over France on Dec. 10 in Cape Town to finish seventh on the second stop of the HSBC SVNS campaign.

Canada placed last on the other six stops, compiling a dismal 3-32-0 over the seven events that preceded the season finale in Madrid. They were winless in Dubai, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Teams in the eight-team qualifier series cross over Sunday with A1 versus B4, 2A versus 3B, 3A versus 2B and 4A versus 1B. That translates into U.S. versus Samoa, Uruguay versus Chile, Germany versus Kenya, and Canada versus Spain,

The winners earn core status for next season while the losers drop to the second-tier Challenger Series. Canada has been a core team on the top men's sevens circuit since 2012-13.

Charity Williams, Olivia Apps, Piper Logan and Keyara Wardley scored tries in a famous victory over New Zealand for Canada, which had lost 27 straight to the Black Ferns seven squad since 2016.

The Canadians led 21-0 at the half which ended with New Zealand's Jorja Miller in the sin-bin. Canada built a 26-0 lead in the second half before Stacey Waaka, with her 100th try on the circuit, Miller and Jazmin Felix-Hotham answered for New Zealand.

The win comes two weeks after the Canadian women's 15s team scored a first-ever victory over New Zealand, winning 22-19 to finish first in the Pacific Four Series. Canada had lost all 17 previous meetings with the Black Ferns 15s.

Wardley, Chloe Daniels and Williams scored tries for Canada against Britain, which trailed 12-0 early. Williams went to the sin-bin late in the first half but scored her 98th career try in the second to give Canada a 17-12 lead with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Heather Cowell's try tied it up for Britain, sending the game to golden point with Wardley eventually touching down for the win.

The Canadian women opened with a 26-19 loss Friday to the U.S. in Championship Pool A.

Canada's men survived last year's four-team relegation playoff, defeating Kenya 12-7 in London in the final on a last-minute Alex Russell try to preserve its core status.

The 2023 relegation was a product of the sevens circuit reducing the number of men's teams to 12 from 16 to align with the women's competition and the Olympic field.

Promotion/relegation is now an annual feature with the bottom four teams from the slimmed-down 12-country HSBC SVNS and the top four teams from the second-tier Challenger Series facing off to decide four berths in next season's elite division.

Having already topped his group, U.S. coach Mike Friday left several starters, including veterans Perry Baker and Steve Tomasin, on the bench with an eye to Sunday's decider.

Maka Unufe opened the scoring for the U.S, slashing through the Canadian defence for a converted try and 7-0 lead with 90 seconds remaining in the first half under the sunshine at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium, home of the Atletico Madrid soccer club.

Josiah Morra, taking a nifty offload from Matt Percillier, crashed over from close range three minutes in to the second half to tie it at 7-7 with Cooper Coats' conversion. The Americans, bringing some starters off the bench, answered quickly with Malacchi Esdale beating a defender for a 14-7 lead.

Canada had a dreadful Friday, beaten 41-7 by Uruguay and 19-14 by Germany.

Against Uruguay, Canada lost Matt Oworu to a red card for a high tackle just 53 seconds into the match. And Kalin Sager was shown a yellow in the second half, reducing Canada to five men for two minutes.

Oworu was subsequently handed a three-match ban.

Canada rallied for a 14-12 lead against Germany thanks to a Jack Carson try with just seconds remaining. But Germany replied with a converted try by Jakob Dipper with the clock in the red for a 19-14 win.

The bottom four teams — the ninth-place U.S., No. 10 Spain, No. 11 Samoa and No. 12 Canada — dropped into the relegation bracket with the top four teams from the Challenger Series — Uruguay, Kenya, Chile and Germany.

The top eight men's and women's sides, meanwhile, are competing in a "winner-take-all" grand final in Madrid, the final stop of the season.

Madrid marks the final tournament for the Canadian women before the Paris Olympics in July. After Madrid, the Canadian men focus on a last-ditch Olympic qualification tournament in Monaco in late June.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2024

News from © The Canadian Press, 2024
The Canadian Press

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