Better now than next summer in Tokyo.
The Langford-based Canadian men’s and women’s sevens rugby teams, both qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games, got off to uneven starts at the Dubai Sevens.
The women, however, managed to get into the championship-flight quarter-finals today against France after beating Russia 24-19 and Brazil 43-0 before losing decidedly 34-10 to the U.S. in pool play.
“We got off to a strong start against Brazil but were obviously disappointed against the U.S.,” said Caroline Crossley of Victoria.
“We just didn’t have possession [against the Americans]. It’s one game at a time now and work on possession.”
The Canadian women in Dubai are a mix of the familiar and the emerging. The team is led by veteran captain and all-time World Series scoring-leader Ghislaine Landry. Other 2016 Rio Olympic bronze-medallists include Charity Williams, Karen Paquin, Kayla Moleschi, Bianca Farella and Brittany Benn. They are joined by six players from the Maple Leafs development squad, which played in last month’s Oceania Sevens in Suva, Fiji. They include Crossley, Elissa Alarie, Emma Chown, Sara Kaljuvee, Kaili Lukan and the University of Victoria Vikes’ Pam Buisa.
Meanwhile, the Canadian men’s team defeated Wales 31-14 before losing 19-12 to Samoa and 31-7 to New Zealand to close pool play. Canada can place no higher than ninth place in Dubai.
“We’re a little disappointed with the results we got,” said rising young Canadian player Cooper Coats.
“We were able to finish off against Wales. [But] anytime New Zealand had a break, they capitalized. They were ruthless in that sense. It was a close game against Samoa that could have been won. Unfortunately, we came up short. There were definitely some positives to take forward, but with things to clean up, as well.”
The Canadian men are led by Island veterans Nathan Hirayama, Mike Fuailefau and Connor Braid of Victoria and Pat Kay of Duncan. Hirayama and Harry Jones of West Vancouver are co-captaining Canada. Also on the trip are promising youngsters Coats of Halifax and Josiah Morra, who were electrifying in the Americas regional Olympic qualifier last summer in the Cayman Islands.
The next World Series events for both men and women are the Cape Town Sevens from Dec. 13 to 15.