It wasn’t the start the Canadian rugby teams wanted as both the men and women lost their opening matches to Ireland at the HSBC Canada Sevens tournament Friday at BC Place Stadium.
The men were trounced 35-5 while the women dropped their game 28-7.
The early games were played before stands full of screaming schoolchildren invited for the opening day of the tournament, which ends Sunday.
The men controlled the ball early against Ireland but couldn’t advance up the field. Ireland built a 21-0 halftime lead by scoring three tires in under four minutes.
Kalin Sager scored Canada’s lone try in the second half.
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“We had trouble holding onto the possession,” said the prop from Trent Lakes, Ont., who is playing in his first year on the World Rugby Sevens Series. “We didn’t quite get it there.
“They got a couple of good steals on us. Hopefully, we start the next one with as much energy as we finished.”
The score was a slight improvement as the men lost 22-0 to Ireland at last weekend’s Los Angeles Sevens.
“Each tournament is a building block,” said Sager. “We’re trying to chip away. We’d like to have a better performance out there for the home crowd.”
The Irish men’s team is ninth in the standings with 68 points while the Canadian men are 14th with 19 points.
Keyara Wardley scored the only Canadian try in the final minute of the women’s game as Ireland romped to a 14-0 halftime lead.
“We didn’t start out the way we wanted,” said Wardley, a centre/wing from Vulcan, Alta. “There were definitely a lot of nerves with the home tournament and the kids yelling.
“It was an amazing feeling but we just need to take that and use that to our advantage.”
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Head coach Jack Hanratty said some early mistakes put his team on its back foot.
“It’s obviously fine margins but if you don’t take ownership of every possession you’ll be in for a long tournament,” he said.
“That wasn’t how we wanted to show ourselves. We don’t just want to be enjoying playing at home. We want to be winning at home.”
The tournament has been expanded to include a full slate of 12 women’s teams competing at the same time as the men.
The World Series is reducing the number of men’s core teams for the 2024 season from 16 to 12, to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure.
The Canadian men must reach the quarterfinals of the next four tournaments, while managing wins when playing the teams ahead of them, to gain enough points to climb into 11th place or better and avoid playing in a relegation playoff.
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The Canadian women have 16 points and are ranked 10th after four stops on their tour. Ireland is fifth with 52 points.
In other men’s Pool D games, Australia ranked sixth in the standings, beat Chile 36-12.
In other women’s Pool C matches, the U.S. beat Brazil 20-7.
The top four men’s and women’s teams at the end of the season will qualify automatically for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 3, 2023
© 2023 The Canadian Press
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