Canadian women lose close decision to Americans at Rugby World Cup Sevens

·5 min read

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — Canada lost a narrow 10-7 decision to the U.S. in women's quarterfinal play Saturday at the Rugby World Cup Sevens.

The fourth-seeded Americans, who opened with a 39-7 win over No. 13 Poland, will face top-seeded Australia while No. 2 New Zealand meets No. 3 France in Sunday's semifinals at Cape Town Stadium.

The fifth-seeded Canadians will play No. 8 England in the portion of the draw that decides places fifth through eighth.

After falling to Uruguay earlier Saturday, the 10th-seeded Canadian men survived a 19-point Welsh comeback in the second half to win 33-19 in consolation play.

Canada will face No. 17 Chile on Sunday to decide 13th place in the 24-team men's field. Chile had advanced in the Challenge portion of the bracket by beating No. 12 Scotland 24-21 in extra time.

The Canadian women, runner-up to New Zealand at the 2013 tournament in Moscow, finished seventh four years ago in San Francisco. The Canadian men's best showing was a fifth-place finish in 2001 in Argentina. They were 12th four years ago.

Keyara Wardley scored a try for Canada with Olivia Apps adding a conversion. Jaz Gray and Ilona Maher scored tries for the U.S.

The Americans controlled from the opening kickoff and eventually breached the Canadian defence with Gray touching down in the third minute after a 23-pass sequence for a 5-0 lead. Krissy Scurfield ran down Gray late in the half to save another U.S. try with the Americans going into the break with the lead.

Wardley cut through the U.S. defence one minute into the second half with an Apps conversion giving Canada a 7-5 lead. A mounting penalty count against Canada allowed the U.S. to gain territory and Maher eventually crashed over in the 12th minute for a 10-7 lead.

The U.S. claimed the ball off the ensuing restart and killed off the rest of the game.

“It was definitely tough,” Wardley said. “We tried to give it our all and just at the end they were the stronger team. But we’re proud of the group — we worked on a lot of things coming from (Friday) but in the end it didn’t fall our way.”

“There’s time to reflect and bring all that we can for (Sunday). That’s what we’re looking forward to,” she added.

While the U.S. had won three of the five meetings between the two this season, Canada had won the last two.

In the other women's Championship quarterfinals, Australia downed No. 8 England 35-5, New Zealand blanked No. 7 Ireland 28-0 and France defeated No. 6 Fiji 19-14.

In men's Championship quarterfinal play, No. 9 Ireland upset top-seeded South Africa 24-14, No. 2 Australia dispatched No. 7 France 14-5, No. 3 Fiji downed No. 11 Samoa 21-10 and No. 5 New Zealand beat No. 4 Argentina 12-5.

Ireland will meet New Zealand while Australia faces Fiji in Sunday's semifinals.

The Canadian men had their way early against No. 14 Wales with a Thomas Isherwood try putting Canada ahead 7-0 in the first minute. Brock Webster raced down the right flank three minutes later to increase the lead to 12-0.

Captain Phil Berna converted a chip-and-chase to score under the posts for a 19-0 lead in the fifth minute. And Alex Russell kept the scoreboard ticking a minute later with a fourth try after Canada won ball at the ensuing kickoff.

Canada's Lockie Kratz was sent to the sin bin late in the half for a foul at the breakdown. And the bad blood continued with Welsh and Canadian players getting involved in a melee that resulted in yellow cards for Isherwood and Wales' Morgan Williams.

Canada, which led 26-0 at the break, was hit by a penalty to start the second half when they fielded one too many men.

With both teams down to six men, Morgan Sieniawski went over for a Welsh try but at a cost as he crashed heavily into the padded goalpost. Another try by Sieniawski cut the Canadian lead to 26-12 with four minutes to go. Callum Carson then outmuscled Russell to cross the line and cut the lead to 26-19.

Webster interrupted the Welsh comeback with a fine individual try, slashing through the Welsh defence after Canada took advantage of a penalty to kick deep into Welsh territory.

The Canadians were beaten 19-12 by No. 18 Uruguay in their consolation Challenge quarterfinal.

Tries by Guillermo Lijtenstein and Baltazar Amaya sandwiched around a Josiah Morra score gave Uruguay a 14-7 lead at halftime. Another Amaya try increased the lead to 19-7 before D'Shawn Bowen scored to cut the deficit to 19-12.

Canada opened men's play Friday with a 31-7 win over No. 23 Zimbabwe but fell out of the championship side of the draw after a 19-12 loss to No. 7 France in round-of-16 play.

Uruguay beat No. 15 Hong Kong 19-7 to start, then was blanked 35-0 by No. 2 Australia in round-of-16 play Friday.

Both the men's and 16-side women's event feature a "winner take all" format, meaning a single loss takes you out of championship contention.

Both Canadian programs have gone through a lot of changes with a spate of retirements after the Tokyo Olympics where the men finished eighth and the women ninth.

South Africa marks the eighth edition of the men's World Cup Sevens and the fourth for the women. Canada has qualified for every one of those.

New Zealand won the last two editions of both the men's and women's World Cup Sevens.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2022

The Canadian Press