June 24th, 2024

Canada rugby 7s women finish fourth in Madrid while men are relegated from HSBC SVNS

By The Canadian Press on June 2, 2024.

Canada’s Asia Hogan-Rochester celebrates a try against France on Day 3 of the HSBC SVNS Grand Final in Madrid in a Sunday, June 2, 2024, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-World Rugby, KLC fotos, Mike Lee, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

MADRID – A dismal season ended in relegation for Canada’s rugby sevens men on Sunday, beaten 22-14 by Spain in a win-or-bust match that dropped the loser out of the elite HSNC SVNS circuit.

It was a 29th straight defeat for the Canadian men, including four in a row in Madrid. The Canada men, who finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics, have been a core team on the top sevens circuit since 2012-13 and lifted the trophy in Singapore in 2017.

Canada, which finished the season with a 3-36-0 record, will now drop down to the second-tier Challenger Series and try and claw its way back up.

The Canadian women, in contrast, finished fourth in their championship bracket, beaten 26-14 by New Zealand in the bronze medal game at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium, home of the Atletico Madrid soccer team.

The top eight men’s and women’s teams competed in a winner-take-all bracket for the title of Grand Final champion in Madrid while the bottom four looked to avoid relegation.

After the fifth-place Canadian women opened with a 26-19 loss Friday to the United States, they upset New Zealand 26-17 before edging Britain 22-17 in extra time to finish atop Championship Pool A on Saturday.

A Canada comeback fell just short in a 19-17 loss to No. 3 France in the women’s semifinal Sunday. No. 2 Australia rallied with a converted try with the clock in the red to edge No. 1 New Zealand 21-19 in the other semi.

New Zealand avenged the pool loss to Canada in the bronze-medal game.

Mahina Paul and Theresa Setefano scored first-half tries for New Zealand after Canada’s Charity Williams opened the scoring with her 99th career try.

Leading 12-7 at the break, New Zealand added tries by Alena Saili and Jorja Miller while Olivia Apps scored for Canada.

France and Australia met in the women’s final while No. 5 France faced No. 1 Argentina in the men’s championship game.

The Canadian men finished bottom of Qualifier Pool A after losses to Uruguay (41-7) Germany (19-14) and the U.S. (14-7). That set up the relegation showdown with unbeaten Spain, which topped Qualifier Pool B.

Canada was without Matt Oworu, who was serving a three-match ban triggered by a red card for a dangerous tackle Friday against Uruguay, and the injured Matt Percillier on Sunday.

Juan Ramos opened the scoring for Spain, somehow dancing through a crowded Canadian defence. Manu Moreno then crashed over, upping the lead to 10-0.

A solo effort by Josiah Morra, taking advantage of a defensive miscue, cut the Spanish lead to 10-7 with a Cooper Coats conversion. But Spain struck back with a second Ramos try capping off a well-executed attack for a 17-7 lead.

Spain’s Josep Serres was sent to the sin-bin early in the second half for a deliberate knockdown of a pass near his own try-line. and Canada immediately took advantage, with Coats scoring from the ensuing scrum and making the conversion to cut the lead to 17-14.

Restored to seven men, Spain added to the lead with a Jaime Manteca try in the corner to up the lead to 22-14 with a little more than minute remaining.

The Canadian men’s last win was Dec. 10 in Cape Town – a 33-17 victory over France to finish seventh on the season’s second stop.

Canada placed last in the other six events, going winless in Dubai, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore.

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 other men’s relegation deciders saw the U.S. defeat Samoa 40-19 to preserve their core status, Kenya defeat Germany 33-15 and Uruguay edge Chile 12-10 thanks to a last-minute try by Juan Tafernaberry.

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

The 2023 relegation fight 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.

The Canadian women had lost 27 straight to the Black Ferns seven squad since a tournament in Clermont-Ferrand in 2016. Their only previous win over the Black Ferns came in the Cup semifinals in Sao Paulo that year.

Saturday’s pool win came 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.

Apps played in both the Canadian sevens and 15s triumphs.

Madrid was the final tournament for the Canadian women before the Paris Olympics in July. The Canadian men head to a last-ditch Olympic qualification tournament in Monaco later this month.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2024

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