Canada's women's rugby sevens finish 4th while men are relegated from HSBC SVNS


The men will travel to Monaco later this month for a final Olympic qualifying tournament.

A dismal season ended with relegation for the Canadian sevens rugby team on Sunday. They lost 14-22 to Spain in a win-or-lose match, with the loser being eliminated from the HSNC SVNS elite league.

It was the 29th consecutive loss for the Canadian men, including four in a row in Madrid. The Canadian men, who finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics, have been a core team on the top sevens tour since 2012/13 and won the Cup in Singapore in 2017.

Canada, which finished the season with a record of 3-36-0, will now be relegated to the second-tier Challenger Series and try to fight its way back up.

The Canadian women, on the other hand, finished fourth in their championship division and lost 26-14 to New Zealand in the bronze medal match at the Civitas Metropolitano Stadium, home of the Atletico Madrid soccer team.

The top eight men's and women's teams competed in an all-or-nothing match for the title of Grand Final winner in Madrid, while the bottom four tried to avoid relegation.

After suffering a 26-19 loss to the United States in their opening match on Friday, the fifth-seeded Canadian women beat New Zealand 26-17 before defeating Great Britain 22-17 in overtime to finish top of Championship Group A on Saturday.

Canada's comeback narrowly failed to make it 19-17 in the women's semifinals, losing to No. 3 France on Sunday. No. 2 Australia rallied, scoring a converted try as the clock was in the red, and beat No. 1 New Zealand 21-19 in the other semifinal.

New Zealand took revenge for their group defeat against Canada in the bronze medal match.

Mahina Paul and Theresa Setefano scored tries for New Zealand in the first half after Canada's Charity Williams opened the scoring with her 99th career try.

Leading 12-7 at halftime, New Zealand scored further tries from Alena Saili and Jorja Miller, while Olivia Apps scored for Canada.

In the women's final, France faced Australia, while in the men's final, number 5 France faced number 1 Argentina.

The Canadian men finished last in qualifying group A after defeats against Uruguay (41-7), Germany (19-14) and the USA (14-7). This meant they faced a relegation duel with undefeated Spain, who led qualifying group B.

Canada was without Matt Oworu, who served a three-match suspension after receiving a red card for a dangerous tackle against Uruguay on Friday, and Matt Percillier, who was injured on Sunday.

Juan Ramos opened the scoring for Spain by dancing his way through the tightly packed Canadian defence, before Manu Moreno charged over the goal to increase the lead to 10-0.

Josiah Morra took advantage of a defensive error and reduced the Spanish lead to 10-7 with a Cooper Coats try. However, Spain hit back with a second try from Ramos, capping a well-executed attack with a 17-7 lead.

Spain's Josep Serres was sent to the penalty box at the start of the second half for intentionally intercepting a pass near his own goal line. And Canada immediately took advantage: Coats scored from the ensuing scrum and reduced the score to 17-14 with the converted bonus.

Spain started again with seven men and extended their lead to 22-14 with a try in the corner by Jaime Manteca with just over a minute left on the clock.

The Canadian men's last win was on December 10 in Cape Town – a 33-17 victory over France, which put them in seventh place at the second stop of the season.

Canada finished last in the other six events, remaining winless in Dubai, Perth, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The bottom four teams – the United States in ninth place, Spain (No. 10), Samoa (No. 11) and Canada (No. 12) – fell into the relegation round along with the top four teams in the Challenger Series – Uruguay, Kenya, Chile and Germany.

In the men's other relegation play-offs, the USA beat Samoa 40-19 to defend their place, Kenya defeated Germany 33-15 and Uruguay beat Chile 12-10 thanks to a last-minute goal from Juan Tafernaberry.

The Canadian men survived a four-team relegation playoff last year, defeating Kenya 12-7 in the final in London as Alex Russell made a last-minute bid to preserve his starting status.

The relegation battle in 2023 was a consequence of the sevens association reducing the number of men's teams from 16 to 12 in order to adapt them to the women's competition and the Olympic field.

Nowadays promotion/relegation takes place every year.

The Canadian women had lost 27 consecutive games to the seven-man Black Ferns team since a tournament in Clermont-Ferrand in 2016. Their only previous victory over the Black Ferns came in the Cup semifinals in Sao Paulo that same year.

Saturday's group victory came two weeks after Canada's 15s women's team earned its first victory over New Zealand, winning 22-19 to finish first in the Pacific Four series. Canada had lost all 17 previous meetings with the Black Ferns 15s.

Apps were present at both the Canadian sevens and 15s triumphs.

Madrid was the last tournament for the Canadian women before the Paris Olympics in July. The Canadian men will compete in a final qualifying tournament for the Monaco Olympics later this month.

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The Canadian Press