Canadian men drawn with South Africa at rugby sevens event in Edmonton

·3 min read

Canada has been drawn in Pool A with South Africa, Hong Kong and Mexico at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Edmonton this weekend.

The Canadian men are coming off a sixth-place finish Sunday in Vancouver where South Africa won as the HSBC World Rugby Seven Series returned after a lengthy pandemic-prompted hiatus. The Blitzboks defeated Kenya 38-5 in the final at B.C. Place Stadium.

In Vancouver, Canada defeated Germany 24-5 and Chile 19-14 before losing 29-19 to the U.S. On Day 2, the Canadians lost 31-5 to Britain in the quarterfinal, beat Spain 33-19 and then were defeated 26-7 by the U.S. in the fifth-place playoff.

South Africa scored 38 tries in Vancouver, with Angelo Davids accounting for 10 of them, becoming the first player to 10 tries in a Series event since France’s Terry Bouhraoua at Cape Town in 2017.

Davids will miss the Edmonton event, having returned to South Africa after a scan revealed a broken hand. He will be replaced by Selvyn Davids.

Hong Kong finished seventh in Vancouver while Mexico was 12th.

Pool B in Edmonton features Kenya, the U.S., Spain and Chile while Pool C is made up of Britain, Ireland, Germany and Jamaica.

The Vancouver and Edmonton events, which also feature a four-team women's competition, will serve as a truncated 2021 World Series season.

Only seven of the men's core teams are taking part in the Canadian events with New Zealand. Fiji, Australia, Argentina, Japan, France and Samoa among those missing due to pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Chile, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica and Mexico are invited teams. The Mexican men's and women's sides were late additions after France withdrew due to travel issues.

The Mexican men went 0-5-0 in Vancouver, outscored 252-7. The Mexican women also lost all five outings, outscored 231-0.

The women's competition features just four teams: Canada, Britain, the U.S. and Mexico.

The "Fast Four'' competition format sees the teams play each other before the top two decide the gold and the other two meet for third.

Britain won the women's event in Vancouver, downing the U.S. 34-12 in the final. The Canadian women placed third, blanking Mexico 48-0.

Former Canada captain Kelly Russell is coaching the women at the Canadian events.

Rugby Canada is fielding young teams at the Canadian tournaments after a spate of retirements and veterans taking time off in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics.

The 2022 World Series season will start with back-to-back combined events in Dubai. The first, Nov. 26-27, will be held behind closed doors while the second, Dec. 3-4, will see fans in attendance at the Sevens Stadium.

The full 2022 schedule will be announced later with "alternative host options'' being considered to replace Australia and New Zealand events in January.

Attendance at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium is limited due to COVID protocols. Rugby Canada is making half of the 32,000-capacity lower bowl available and may push that to 60 per cent if demand warrants.

Last season, the men got in six of 10 planned tournaments and the women five of eight before the schedule stalled after the Canada sevens in Vancouver in March 2020. A women's event in Langford, B.C., scheduled for early May last year was one of the tournaments cancelled.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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