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TOKYO — Canada's quest for another medal in women's rugby sevens got off to a roaring start Thursday morning as the Canadian squad routed Brazil 33-0 in the opening match of the group play stage for both teams.
Things went quite differently for Canada on Thursday evening as they dropped their second match to Fiji 26-12.
In the early game, veteran captain Ghislaine Landry led a balanced scoring attack for the Canadians, making four out of five conversion attempts and adding a try for 13 points.
"I'm pretty happy with that first performance," Landry said.
"It's been such a build up ... We're just so happy to be on the field playing together."
Olympic rookie Keyara Wardley, who came in as a substitute for the second half, added 10 points on a pair of tries, while Charity Williams and Karen Paquin had a try each.
In the late game, Fiji was dominant against a Canadian squad that looked flat-footed in the first half. The Fijians led 21-0 at the break.
The second half was a more balanced contest, but the damage was done and Canada fell to 1-1.
The Canadians wrap up their group play schedule against France on Friday morning. The French side is undefeated after victories over Fiji and Brazil on Thursday.
The Canadian women, led by Landry, earned a bronze medal in the first Olympic appearance for rugby sevens at the Rio Games in 2016.
Both teams brought terrific energy to the pitch to start Thursday's opener, and the first half was a mostly even affair, with only Williams crossing the goal line. Landry's first successful conversion made it 7-0 Canada at halftime, and it was all Canada from there.
"At halftime we just talked about really going 100 per cent and I think you saw that in second half," said Landry.
Thursday marked a debut of sorts for Canada coach Mick Byrne, a 62-year-old Australian national with a diverse CV that includes rugby league, rugby union and Aussie Rules Football.
After the game, Landry had high praise for the new coach.
"You know he's one of the best rugby coaches in the world. His knowledge is second to none. So we were so fortunate that he was able to step in and help us get here and I think elevate our game," she said.
Byrne took over the Canadian women after John Tait stepped down in April after an independent review of a formal complaint by former and present players under Rugby Canada's harassment and bullying policy.
The review found that, while the conduct described in the players' complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not fall within the policy's definition of harassment or bullying.
Tait said the complaints were "all unfounded," but resigned as sevens head coach and women's high-performance director.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.
The Canadian Press