Tough opening day for Canadian rugby men, women at Dubai 7s

Young Canadian teams took it on the chin at the Dubai Sevens on Friday, losing all five games.

The Canadian men, who finished 11th last week at the same venue in the opening tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2022 season, lost 38-14 to the U.S., 24-17 to Australia and 26-14 to Kenya.

Canada’s women, who placed seventh in the opening event, were thumped 52-0 by Australia, last weekend’s champion, before falling 12-10 to Spain on a late try by Lea Ducher.

Eight different Australians scored tries against Canada. Captain Breanne Nicholas and Olivia De Couvreur had the Canadian tries against Spain.

Canada is fielding inexperienced squads following major turnover in personnel following the Tokyo Olympics, where the Canadian men finished eight and the women ninth.

The men had to deal with a difficult pool. The Americans were runners-up to South Africa last weekend while Australia finished fifth and Kenya seventh.

Theo Sauder took over the Canadian captaincy with Jake Thiel sidelined by a concussion last week.

Thomas Isherwood and Elias Ergas scored tries for Canada against the U.S., with Ergas showing off his speed in a late try under the posts.

Josiah Morrah had a pair of tries with Sauder adding a single in the loss to Australia. Brennig Provost and Isherwood scored tries against Kenya.

Quarter-finals set

Saturday’s men’s quarter-finals will be Australia versus Ireland, Argentina versus Britain, the U.S. versus France and South Africa versus Kenya. The South Africans went 3-0-0 Friday, extending their record win streak to 21 games.

« The thing with us being at the top, everyone wants to come at us but as a system, we stuck together and pulled it through, » said South Africa’s J.C. Pretorius. « We love Dubai, it has the same weather as South Africa. »

The Canadian men will face Olympic champion Fiji in the ninth-place semifinal.

The Pacific Islanders had a rare off day, losing to France and Spain before bouncing back to beat Argentina. It was Spain’s first ever win over Fiji and the second for Spain.

It marked only the second time in Series history that Fiji has missed the Cup quarterfinals (Dubai 2020 was the only other time). Fiji has brought a young team to Dubai, with 10 players making their Series debut last week.

The Canadian women wrap up pool play Saturday against Russia and Brazil. Australia and Fiji, runner-up last week, both went 3-0-0 in women’s play Saturday, topping their pools after Day 1.

While the first Dubai event was played without fans, the stands were open Friday.

The Dubai tournaments do not include New Zealand’s men’s and women’s teams and the Samoa’s men’s squad due to pandemic-related travel issues.

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