June 18th, 2024

New Zealand dominates Hong Kong rugby 7s with Canadian women sixth and men 12th

By The Canadian Press on April 7, 2024.

Canada’s Ethan Hager races away from the Britain defence at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in Hong Kong in a Sunday, April 7, 2024, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-World Rugby, KLC fotos, Mike Lee, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

HONG KONG – New Zealand’s women and men both repeated as champions Sunday at the Cathay/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, one of the most celebrated stops on the rugby sevens circuit.

The Black Ferns thumped the United States 36-7 in the women’s final to claim their third straight tournament title and fifth podium finish in six events this season, moving past Australia atop the HSBC SVNS standings on points difference with one regular-season event remaining.

The All Blacks then overcame France 10-7 in the men’s final for their first title of the season. It was a third straight podium finish for France, which was coming off a tournament win in Los Angeles.

“It means a lot to us,” said New Zealand’s Cody Vai. “Hong Kong is one of the ones that we want to turn around and (we’ll) probably go up from there until the Olympics. This is not it. This is part of the journey and the end journey is obviously the Olympics.”

Australia downed Ireland 14-5 in the men’s bronze-medal game while the Australia women edged France 24-21 to finish third.

The Canadian women finished sixth after losing the fifth-place playoff 19-15 to Fiji. Canada’s men were 12th, beaten 26-17 by Britain in the 11th-place playoff.

The Canada women, whose best result of the season so far was a third in Vancouver, are fifth in the standings. The men are 12th and last.

The rebuilding Canadian men, who had to deal with injuries in Hong Kong, have collected a minimum one-point in five of the first six events. They have now have lost 20 straight games since defeating France 33-7 on Dec. 10 to finish seventh in Cape Town.

After Hong Kong, the teams go to Singapore before wrapping up the season in Madrid from May 31 to June 2.

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 and women’s team with the most cumulative points after seven rounds claim the title of SVNS 2024 League Winners, while the top eight-placed teams earn their place in the new “winner takes all” Grand Final, where the men’s and women’s champion will be crowned.

Canada’s men are headed for a second straight relegation battle to retain their core status on the circuit.

The relegation bracket in Madrid, featuring the bottom four teams in the SVNS standings and the top four from the World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger series, will determine the remaining four HSBC SVNS core teams.

The results in Hong Kong mean that seven of the eight teams have been confirmed for the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid.

Ireland, Fiji, France, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa join Argentina in the men’s tournament. The U.S. currently eighth, will look to join them with a good performance in Singapore.

On the women’s side, Canada, the U.S. Ireland and Fiji join Australia, New Zealand and France in confirming their places at the Grand Final in Madrid. The final spot will be decided in Singapore with eighth-place Britain currently holding a two-point lead over Brazil.

After winning their pool with three straight wins, the Canadian women ran into a New Zealand buzz in a 26-5 loss in the Cup quarterfinal. Canada then fell short in its comeback bid against Fiji after trailing 19-5 in the second half of the fifth-place playoff. Piper Logan and Fancy Bermudez scored late tries but it was too little too late.

Krissy Scurfield scored a try in the first half for Canada.

Ethan Hager, Ethan Turner and D’Shawn Bowen scored tries in a losing cause for Canada against Britain in the men’s 11th-place game.

Canada, featuring four Series debutantes on its roster, finished last in Pool A after comprehensive losses to Fiji, France and Australia. Canada then lost 21-0 to Series leader Argentina in the ninth-place semifinal.

The high-flying Pumas, who have won three tournaments with one runner-up finish this season, came to Hong Kong with a 20-point lead in the overall standings. But they dropped into the consolation bracket after pool losses to the U.S. and New Zealand.

The Argentines, who lost Series try-scoring leader Marcos Moneta to injury in the U.S. loss, had reached the Cup final in seven of the past eight events dating back to Singapore last season and dispatched Canada 21-0.

Argentina remains atop the men’s standings, following by Ireland, Fiji, France and New Zealand. France in third on the women’s side, behind New Zealand and Australia, with the U.S. fourth.

The Canadian women, bronze medallists at the 2016 Games in Rio, have already qualified for the Paris Olympics. Canada’s men will have to get past the likes of South Africa, Britain and Spain at a tough last-ditch qualifying tournament in Monaco in late June to join them

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2024.

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