Langford, BC – May 12, 2019: Just a few weeks after a last-minute try pushed Canada over the line in the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens final, the Canadians were toppled by the USA on home soil in the quarterfinals of the HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford. The result wasn’t what was hoped for, but Canada are still poised to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo if they can put in a strong performance in Biarritz, France next month.
Canada started off their campaign with a big win against Brazil in front of an electric hometown crowd at the newly renovated Westhills Stadium which now seats 8,000 fans.
Captain Ghislaine Landry scored a try in the opening minutes of the match, slipping through a hole in Brazil’s line to score. After serving a penalty for a high tackle, BC’s Kayla Moleschi more than made up for it, faking with a killer show and go to beat her defender to score. Canada ended the half up 12-7 with Landry adding on the kick.
It was all Canada in the second half, with Emma Chown getting the pass from Breanne Nicholas to score and Landry following up with the conversion. Canada covered big ground, moving the ball sideline to sideline to find Charity Williams on the wing for a try in the corner. Seconds later, Williams got her second try of the match off of an almost identical play. Karen Paquin, who plays her club rugby in Oak Bay, BC for Castaway Wanderers RFC, scored the final try of the match, stretching across the line to score. With two conversions by Nicholas, Canada finished the match on top, 38-7.
Paquin is coming off a meniscus injury sustained during the 2017 Women’s World Cup that kept her out of action for over a year. She made her return at an invitational tournament before featuring in Canada’s tournament win at Kitakyushu. The game against Brazil was her first for the national team on home soil since the injury.
“It’s so energizing to be here — the fans are awesome,” said Paquin after a clash with the USA. “The energy is really great, and it’s so fun to be able to share our passion with our home fans.”
Canada staked their claim to a quarterfinal berth with a big win against Ireland.
The Irish were first to strike but Britt Benn came back with a big fend that got her free for the score. A series of knock ons on both sides slowed play down towards the end of the half, which ended 5-5.
In the second half, Moleschi found the skipper Landry on the wing for the try. At the breakdown Benn scooped up the ball and hit Paquin who dotted down in the corner. Paquin got the final try of the match, cutting inside and burning down field to score between the sticks. Landry added the convert to bring the final score to 22-5 for the Canadians.
Canada fell to Australia 29-14 in the final game of the group stage, but were already through to the quarterfinals where they would play the USA.
The hosts held strong in the first but the Americans finally slipped through the line in the final seconds of the half to go up 7-0.
In the final minutes of the second, Charity Williams bolted down the sideline for a try, electrifying the hometown crowd.
Landry came up big with the conversion on a tough angle to draw level, but the US answered quickly to pull ahead and take the match.
After being eliminated from contention, the Canadians played two excellent games against Spain and England to end the tournament, winning 31-0 and 31-7 to earn a fifth-place finish at the tournament.
France then won their quarterfinal match against England, keeping them mathematically alive in the hunt for an Olympic qualification spot. Canada currently sit in third place in the HSBC Seven’s Series standings with a nigh-insurmountable 18-point lead over France, but a solid showing at the France event will punch Canada’s ticket to Tokyo 2020.
The final event on the 2018-19 World Rugby HSBC Sevens Series calendar takes place June 15-16 in Biarritz.