Any victory against New Zealand in rugby is significant and to be noted, if not celebrated. The Langford-based Canadian men’s sevens team recorded one of its biggest wins by beating the Tokyo Olympic silver-medallist Kiwis 19-7 on Saturday in the HSBC World Series Cape Town Sevens with Jack Carson of Victoria, David Richard and Cooper Coats scoring tries.
Canada then defeated Samoa 33-17 on tries by Carson and fellow-Victorian Lachlan Kratz, the latter who surpassed 100 career World Series points, along with tries from Coats and Matt Oworu. Canada lost 26-7 to Australia to finish group play 2-1 to advance to the quarter-finals Sunday morning against Argentina.
The Canadian women’s team, also based in Langford, also advanced to the quarter-finals in Cape Town, where they are to meet defending Tokyo Olympic champion New Zealand Sunday morning.
The Canadian women beat South Africa 40-0 but lost 19-17 to Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist France and 21-14 to the U.S. yet still managed to wriggle into the final quarter-final slot at 1-2. The Canadian women placed fourth last weekend in the season-opening HSBC World Series Emirates Dubai Sevens.
University of Victoria Vikes players Krissy Scurfield and Carissa Norsten and Caroline Crossley of Oak Bay scored tries in Cape Town for Canada on Saturday, as did Charity Williams, the last remaining player on the team from the 2016 Rio Olympics bronze-medallist squad.
“We set a target of getting into as many top fours as possible,” said Canada women’s head coach Jack Hanratty, in a statement, heading into Cape Town.
“We want to keep building and try and get this program back onto podiums.”
That may be a tall order this weekend after a less-than-stellar opening day put the Canadians directly in the path of New Zealand Sunday morning in the quarter-finals.
The Canada women’s team earned its spot in the 2024 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 Cape Town, including Scurfield and Norsten.
“I want to compliment the players who are at home working hard and who are here,” said Hanratty.
The Canadian men’s team, 12th last week in Dubai, has taken eight of the 2023 Santiago Pan Am Games bronze medallists to the Dubai and Cape Town tournaments. The Canada squad, preparing for the last-chance qualifier next year for the Paris Olympics, features Island players Kratz, Carson and Will Percillier.
The next stop on the 2023-24 HSBC World Series season will be the Perth Sevens in Australia from Jan. 26-28. The Canada Sevens runs Feb. 23-25 at B.C. Place.