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Canadian women's rugby team places fourth at Dubai Sevens

Next World Series stop is South Africa
Maddy Grant and Team Canada finished fourth at the Dubai Sevens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

It began in shadow of the Burj Khalifa on the weekend with the ultimate destination being to play in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower next summer.

The Langford-based Canadian women’s rugby sevens team served notice it could be heard from at the 2024 Paris Olympics by placing fourth over the weekend in the season-opening HSBC World Series Emirates Dubai Sevens.

University of Victoria Vikes players Krissy Scurfield and Carissa Norsten turned in standout play as did Charity Williams, the last remaining player on the team from the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze-medallist squad. Caroline Crossley of Victoria was also a factor as Canada went 2-1 in group play before besting Ireland 14-12 in the quarter-finals Sunday and giving defending Tokyo Olympic champion New Zealand all it could handle in a 21-19 loss in the semifinals. Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist France defeated Canada 26-5 in the bronze-medal game.

“All in all, a really positive weekend,” Canada head coach Jack Hanratty said in a statement.

“We set a target of getting into as many top fours as possible. This is a step in the right direction.

“We want to keep building and try and get this program back onto podiums.”

Canada earned its spot in the Paris Olympics by winning the North American and Caribbean qualifying tournament held over the summer at Starlight Stadium. Canada followed up by taking the silver medal last month in the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Nine players from the Pan Am Games team are in Dubai, including Scurfield and Norsten.

The Canadian men’s team, also based in Langford, took eight of the 2023 Santiago Pan Am Games bronze medallists to the Dubai Sevens. The Canucks gave world power New Zealand all it could handle in a 26-21 loss to highlight its 0-3 record in group play. That was followed by credible 21-14 and 19-14 losses to Great Britain and Spain, respectively, to place 12th.

“We certainly got off to a start we were happy with versus New Zealand, and we were looking to build off that as the week progressed,” Canadian head coach Sean White of Victoria said in a statement.

“We were unable to put points on the board in big moments and going into next week that will be our focus. We know what we’re capable of and when we trust each other and pull in the same direction good things happen.”

Canada, preparing for the last-chance qualifier next year for the Paris Olympics, features Lachlan Kratz and Jack Carson of Victoria.

The Canadian men’s and women’s teams will move down to South Africa this week for the Cape Town Sevens.