July 20th, 2024

Canadian rugby sevens men and women head Down Under for third stop of the season

By The Canadian Press on January 18, 2024.

Team Canada's Maddy Grant runs in for the try against Team Mexico during the women’s gold medal rugby game at the Rugby Sevens Paris 2024 Olympic qualification event at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Sunday, August 20, 2023. Maddy Grant and Breanne Nicholas return to the Canadian women's rugby sevens side for the HSBC SVNS in Perth, Australia, later this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Maddy Grant and Breanne Nicholas return to the Canadian women’s rugby sevens side for the HSBC SVNS in Perth, Australia, later this month.

Grant was with the Canadian 15s team at the WXV tournament in New Zealand in the fall. Nicholas, who won Pan American Games silver with the sevens squad in November, is returning from an injury layoff.

Both the Canadian women and men are in action Jan. 26-28 in Perth, the third stop of the HSBC SVNS circuit formerly known as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The slimmed-down sevens circuit features seven regular-season events, each featuring men’s and women’s competition, plus a grand final with promotion and relegation at stake. The men’s field has been cut to 12 core teams from 16 to match the women’s setup as well as the Olympic competition.

The Canadian women have been drawn with Australia, Britain and South Africa in Pool A. They go to Perth fifth in the overall standings after placing fourth in Cape Town and sixth in the Series-opening stop in Dubai. Britain stands ninth and South Africa 11th.

Eleven players who competed in Dubai and Cape Town return for Perth, including Krissy Scurfield and Charity Williams who lead the team this season with five tries apiece.

“We showed through the first two stops in Dubai and Cape Town that we can compete with the best in the world, and that continues to be what we strive for heading into Perth, challenging for podium positions with performances we are proud of,” women’s coach Jack Hanratty said in a statement.

Australia, which won the first two events, tops the women’s table ahead of France and New Zealand which both made the podium in the opening tournaments.

France, Fiji, Brazil and Spain make up Pool B on the women’s side while Pool C consists of Olympic champion New Zealand, the U.S., Ireland and Japan.

Canada’s men have been drawn in Pool A with Argentina, South Africa and Spain. They stand ninth after finishing 12th in Dubai and seventh in Cape Town, where they posted pool wins against New Zealand and Samoa and a final victory over France.

“Our Cape Town performance showed what we are capable of,” said men’s coach Sean White.

“The challenge becomes the consistency of those performances,” he added. “Seventh place, although a very strong finish based on our previous few years, is not the internal apex of this group.”

The side selected for Perth features 12 players who competed in Cape Town including leading try-scorers Lockie Kratz and Jack Carson (five apiece). Kratz also leads the team in points this season with 39.

Ethan Hager, who made his international debut last August at the Olympic Qualifier in Langford, B.C., is set to make his HSBC SVNS debut.

Australia, Ireland, Britain and the U.S. form Pool B on the men’s side while Olympic champion Fiji, reigning Series champion New Zealand, France and Samoa make up Pool C.

Argentina, runner-up in Dubai and victor in Cape Town, tops the men’s standings ahead of South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand and Ireland. Spain is 12th.

Vancouver is the fourth stop of the season, scheduled for Feb. 23-25. The teams then go to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore before wrapping up in Madrid from May 31 to June 2.

Canada’s men retained their core team status in dramatic fashion last May, defeating Kenya 12-7 in the relegation playoff final in London thanks to a last-minute try by Alex Russell. The Canadians were forced into the playoff after finishing 14th in the season standings.

Canada Women’s Roster

Breanne Nicholas, Blenheim, Ont., Kent Havoc RFC; Charity Williams, Toronto, Markham Irish; Florence Symonds, Hong Kong, UBC; Maddy Grant, Cornwall, Ont., University of Ottawa; Fancy Bermudez, Edmonton, Westshore RFC; Krissy Scurfield, Canmore, Alta., University of Victoria; Alysha Corrigan, Charlottetown, P.E.I. CRFC; Carissa Norsten, Waldheim, Sask., University of Victoria; Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., Lindsay RFC; Shalaya Valenzuela, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Asia Hogan-Rochester, Toronto, Toronto Nomads RFC; Caroline Crossley, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Chloe Daniels, Sutton, Ont., Queen’s University.

Canada Men

Jake Thiel, Victoria, James Bay AA; Phil Berna, Vancouver, Vancouver Rowing Club; Josiah Morra, Toronto, Toronto Saracens; Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars; David Richard, Milton, Ont., Mississauga Blues RFC; Ethan Hager, Brantford, Ont., Brantford Harlequins; Matthew Oworu, Calgary, Pacific Pride; Thomas Isherwood, Okotoks, Alta., Foothills Lions RFC; Kal Sager, Peterborough, Ont., Trent University; Lockie Kratz, Victoria, NOLA Gold (MLR); Cody Nhanala, Ottawa, Pacific Pride; Matt Percillier, Victoria, UBC; Jack Carson, Victoria, UBC.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2024

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