Women's Canada Sevens rugby event at Westhills Stadium cancelled again

Vancouver is maybe yes, Langford a hard no.

The rugby sevens 2021 World Series schedule was released Wednesday with the Canada Sevens men’s tournament tentatively set for September at B.C. Place Stadium, moved from its usual March slot. But the Canada Sevens women’s event, annually held at Westhills Stadium in May, was left off the pandemic-abbreviated list of tournaments.

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Both the Canadian men’s and women’s teams are based in Langford and are training for the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

“We’re obviously disappointed not to have the Canada Sevens but it’s understandable. It’s not a huge shock,” said Canadian women’s team player Caroline Crossley of Victoria, about the Langford tournament not being staged for a second consecutive year.

The important thing, said Crossley, is there will be two women’s tournaments in May over back-to-back weekends at Paris. Those will be the only World Series competitions ahead of the Olympics.

“That will be our first formal play and it’s critical to have that,” said Crossley, of being able to prepare for the Tokyo Games in the Paris tournaments.

Canadian team player Pam Buisa concurred.

“It’s tough not to get a home date in Langford, but we are in a global pandemic, and we can only control what we can control,” said the former University of Victoria Vikes standout.

“Our main goal this year remains to get to the top of the Olympic podium in Tokyo.”

Canada, bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is ranked No. 3 in the world.

The Canadian men’s team has also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and is preparing at Westhills and Goudy Field.

“I’m pleased we will hopefully get to play at B.C. Place this year,” said Nate Hirayama, the former UVic Vikes great, and all-time leading Canadian scorer.

“It’s great news. It’s one of the best stops on the circuit. Our mindset right now, however, is all about Tokyo.”

Unlike the women, however, the men will get no World Series tournaments ahead of the Olympic Games.

The men’s World Series season dates confirmed are at Singapore on Oct. 29-30, followed by joint men’s and women’s tournaments in Hong Kong on Nov. 5-7, at Dubai on Dec. 3-4 and in Cape Town the week after that. Detailed discussions are continuing with London and Vancouver on the viability of hosting men’s events in the window following the Olympic Games and prior to the Singapore Sevens in October.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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