HAMILTON, New Zealand — The Canadian women finished the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on a winning note Saturday, thumping Papua New Guinea 44-5 to place 11th.
Canada, which came into the tournament in ninth place in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings after two events, got three tries from Bianca Farella and singles from Krissy Scurfield, Nakisa Levale, Fancy Bermudez Chavez, Renee Gonzalez and Shalaya Valenzuela against Papua New Guinea, an invitational side at the tournament.
The Canadian men, who were 13th in the standings coming in, ended finished 14th after losing 24-14 to No. 12 Spain. Canada had beaten Spain 12-5 in pool play Friday.
The Canadian women lost 7-0 to No. 8 Spain earlier in the day. On Friday, Canada tied No. 4 France 12-12 before losing 33-7 to No. 1 Australia and 17-7 to No. 10 Japan in Pool B play. It marked Japan's first-ever win over the Canadians, who were coming off an eighth-place finish in Cape Town and a ninth in Dubai.
The Canadian men lost 21-5 earlier Saturday to No. 14 Kenya, which was led by former Canada coach Damian McGrath.
Michaela Blyde scored three tries to help New Zealand win the Cup with 33-7 win over the U.S, in the final, while Australia downed Ireland 33-17 to claimed bronze. New Zealand outscored its opposition 225-19 en route to its second straight Cup triumph and third podium finish.
Argentina won the men's event, rallying from 12-0 down to defeat New Zeaand 14-12. The U.S. edged France 15-14 to take bronze.
The New Zealand women lead the Series standings with 58 points after three events, ahead of Australia (54 points) and the U.S. (50 points). The Canadian women slipped one spot to 10th with 12 points.
New Zealand also leads the men's competition after four events with 63 points following its third straight podium. The U.S. is second (61 points) and Argentina third (59 points). The Canadian men dropped one rung to No. 14 with eight points.
A first-half try by Canada's Brock Webster cancelled out a score by Edmund Anya but tries by Willy Ambaka and George Ooro Angeyo carried the Kenyans to victory, Canada bounced back to down No. 11 Uruguay 21-17 before running into Spain again.
The Canadian men dropped into the consolation bracket after going 1-2-0 on Friday, losing 34-5 to No. 2 South Africa and 29-14 to No. 8 Argentina and beating Spain.
McGrath was put in charge of the Canadian men in October 2016, succeeding Zimbabwe’s Liam Middleton, whose contract was not renewed after Canada failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics. The veteran English coach led the Canadians to the tournament title in Singapore in 2017, the first Cup win in the Canadian men’s 140th event on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit but was fired in May 2019 with the team in 12th place in the standings.
Henry Paul, who succeeded McGrath, stepped down as Canada coach in November with assistant coach Sean White taking over as interim head coach.
The Canadian men finished 14th in both Dubai and Cape Town after opening the season with a 10th-place showing in Hong Kong. After losing to Fiji in the Hong Kong quarterfinals, South Africa won in Dubai and finished fourth in Cape Town.
Canada is looking to escape the relegation zone under the World Series' new format in the 11-stop men's 2023 season.
The 15th-ranked core team following the 10th round in Toulouse in May will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th at the end of the Toulouse event will take part in a four-team relegation playoff together with the 2023 Challenger Series winner in the final stop of the season in London.
The relegation playoff will be round-robin format with the top two teams then playing a final. The winner will become the 12th core team on the 2024 Series, while the other three teams will enter their respective Regional Sevens Championships in order to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2023.
The Canadian Press