Canadian men miss out on Hong Kong Sevens Cup quarterfinals after going 1-2-0

HONG KONG — Canada lost a close game to Ireland before edging Kenya on Saturday at the Hong Kong Sevens, missing out on the Cup quarterfinals in the opening event of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Canadian men, who lost their opener 36-0 to Argentina on Friday, finished third in Pool D on Saturday after losing 19-17 to Ireland and beating Kenya 19-14.

Canada will face Hong Kong in the consolation side of the bracket.

Ireland, Fiji and France went unbeaten in winning their pools. The Cup quarterfinals are Samoa versus Argentina, Olympic champion Fiji versus Commonwealth Games gold medallist South Africa, Ireland versus defending World Series champion Australia and France versus the U.S.

Fiji is looking for a sixth straight title in Hong Kong.

An Alex Russell try in the 11th minute gave Canada a 17-14 lead over Ireland. But Russell was injured on the play and the Irish pulled ahead two minutes later on a Harry McNulty try. David Richard and Anton Ngongo also scored tries for Canada.

Phil Berna scored two tries and Lockie Kratz added a single against Kenya, which had a player sin-binned early in the contest for a deliberate knock-on.

The Hong Kong event has long been the jewel on the sevens circuit with full stands and a party-like atmosphere. But the pandemic put that on hold in 2020 and '21.

In September, Hong Kong eased COVID restrictions on travellers, paving the way for the popular tournament to return.

Hong Kong marks the start of an 11-stop men's season that wraps up May 20-21 in London. This season marks two events in Hong Kong, with the second a combined men's and women's event starting March 31 following the March 3-5 stop in Vancouver. which will feature men and women for the first time.

Canada hopes to improve on a disappointing 2022 campaign that saw a new-look team, rebuilding after a slew of retirements following the Tokyo Olympics, finish 14th overall.

The top four finishers in the 2023 Series secure 2024 Olympic qualification. The remaining teams will have to win their way to Paris through regional qualifiers.

The seven-stop women’s World Series kicks off Dec. 2 in Dubai.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2022

The Canadian Press