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Canadian women's team continues rebuild with encouraging showing in France Sevens

The Langford-based Canadian women’s rugby sevens team continued its climb back from its disastrous showing last summer in the Tokyo Olympics.
Canada's Bianca Farella flies past Spain's Lea Ducher in Canada's opening match of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament at Starlight Stadium in Langford on April 30, 2022. The team finished sixth in the France Sevens in Toulouse on Sunday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The Langford-based Canadian women’s rugby sevens team continued its climb back from its disastrous showing last summer in the Tokyo Olympics.

Its sixth-place finish Sunday in the France Sevens in Toulouse followed its fifth-place showing at home this month in the Canada Sevens at Starlight Stadium.

Toulouse was the capper on the 2022 HSBC World Series season for the women with Canada placing seventh overall in the standings. That’s an improvement of two spots from its ninth place in the Tokyo Olympics, but the latter was acutely disappointing because that was a veteran-laden team with several holdovers from the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze-medallist squad.

The national team is undergoing a near-complete rebuild and features numerous young performers, including University of Victoria Vikes players Ella O’Regan, Renee Gonzalez and Krissy Scurfield with Fancy Bermudez out of Westshore RFC. The lone 2016 Olympic-medallist holdover dressed on the weekend for Canada was the still-relevant veteran Bianca Farella.

Canada opened the final day Sunday with a 19-7 victory over the U.S. before losing 19-14 to Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist France in the fifth-sixth final. That followed a pulsating Saturday in which Canada just missed the semifinals in a 22-21 loss to Ireland in the quarter-finals on a late game-winning Irish try.

Tokyo Olympics-champion New Zealand defeated Australia 21-14 in the championship final in Toulouse. That turned the tables from Starlight Stadium, when the Aussies edged the Kiwis on a last-play try to win the Canada Sevens.

The Langford-based Canadian men’s team, meanwhile, placed 13th in Toulouse following a 27-7 loss to Wales. The Canadian men are also undergoing a major rebuild with the retirement of its veteran foundation following its quarter-final appearance in the Tokyo Olympics. Jake Thiel and Phil Berna were the lone Tokyo Games holdovers dressed over the weekend in the France Sevens. Among the youthful Canadian players in Toulouse were Brennig Prevost, Anton Ngongo and Matthew Oworu of Victoria.

It was former Victoria playing great and international Sean White’s first tournament as new assistant coach of the Canadian team.

Two-time defending Rio and Tokyo Olympics gold-medallist Fiji defeated Ireland 29-17 in the men’s championship game.

The Canadian men are 14th in the overall standings as the HSBC World Series continues with the London Sevens this weekend at historic Twickenham Stadium.

The Canadian men’s and women’s teams will conclude their overall seasons with the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to Aug. 8 and the 2022 Sevens World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, from Sept. 9-11.