Canadian rugby women advance to Cup quarterfinals at Cape Town Sevens

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Canada's rugby women made it to the Cup quarterfinals at the Cape Town Sevens but face a tough road after losing 14-12 to France in their final group game.

The French, who upset New Zealand before losing 19-7 to Canada in last weekend's quarterfinals in Dubai, led 14-0 at the half Saturday on tries by Coralie Bertrand and Seraphine Okemba.

Canada, runner-up in Dubai, mounted a comeback with tries from Britt Benn and Charity Williams and was attacking in the French end with no time remaining, only to see the rally snuffed out in the rain with a knock-on.

It was only the third win for the French over Canada in 26 meetings on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

France (3-0-0) won Pool B and will play Russia, which finished third in Pool A. Canada (2-1-0) takes on the U.S. with the winner facing either powerful New Zealand or England in the semifinals. New Zealand beat Canada 17-14 in the Dubai final.

The U.S. beat Canada on the first two stops of the circuit — 29-26 and 34-10.

Australia, which beat the Americans 19-14 to win Pool C, plays Fiji in the other women's Cup quarterfinal.

The Canadian women, who blanked Brazil 32-0 on Friday, opened play Saturday with 28-7 win over Spain thanks to two-try performances from both captain Ghislaine Landry and Bianca Farella.

Canada came into Cape Town second overall in the World Series women's standings after two events. The Americans, who won the opening stop in Glendale, Colo., were second behind New Zealand.

The Canadian men, who opened with a 33-21 loss to Argentina on Friday, were thumped 33-5 by New Zealand in their first match of the day Saturday. The All Blacks led 14-0 at the half with Mike Fuailefau's converted try in the eighth minute halving the lead. But New Zealand reeled off three late tries to seal the deal.

The loss dropped Canada's record against the Blacks to 3-28-1.

The Canadian men, who finished 10th in Dubai in their season opener, then beat Wales 17-14 in their final pool match at Cape Town Stadium.

Theo Sauder opened the scoring for Canada, capping off a storming run by Isaac Kaay through the Welsh defence. Matt Mullins powered his way over late in the first half to make it 10-0 after a Welsh turnover.

Canada pulled further ahead after a speeding Sauder beat Luke Treharne to a well-placed Nate Hirayama kick. Hirayama's conversion made it 17-0. Cameron Lewis and Jay Jones added late tries to make it interesting but time ran out on the Welsh.

"We made the most of our opportunities in that game," said Hirayama.

The Canadian men (1-0-2) will meet Australia (1-0-2) in an 11th-place playoff Sunday after finishing third in Pool B. New Zealand beat Argentina 19-14 to win the group.

The men's Cup quarterfinals are South Africa versus Kenya, France versus Argentina, Ireland versus Fiji and New Zealand versus Scotland.

The Cape Town Sevens, one of six combined men's and women's events this year, ends Sunday. It marks the first time the women have taken part in the tournament.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2019.

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