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The final of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens tournament this weekend in Langford came down to two traditional rugby powerhouses with New Zealand taking first over Australia in a close final match 21-17.
Earlier in the day, Canada missed an opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, finishing fifth.
Third and fourth positions were decided between USA and France. The Americans won that game 26-5. Canada, coming off of a series win in Japan two weeks prior, finished fifth overall by defeating England for the second time in two days, 31-7.
Canada started the tournament with a pair of wins on Saturday defeating Brazil and Ireland before losing to Australia 29-14.
Sunday didn’t start any easier as the Americans defeated Canada in a strong defensive-style game winning 12-7. Team Canada played excellent defense throughout and had a strong offensive showing as usual, but struggled to penetrate the strong defensive coverage by Australia and the Americans.
The top four teams of the tournament qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Canada came out angry and demonstrated their prowess by defeating Spain 31-0 and England 31-7 – not enough, but certainly proving to the nearly full house at Westhills Stadium that they are a world power – having won bronze during the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Aussies won gold, while the Kiwis earned silver.
New Zealand and Australia were undefeated going into the gold medal match. The Kiwis prevailed for their fourth series win in five tournaments.
Twenty-six-year-old Sarah Hirini who sits third on the New Zealand team scoring with 80 points is good for 19th overall. She scored at the 4′ mark with a try to start the proceedings.
“I like playing here, it reminds me of home,” said Hirini. “Being up at Bear Mountain is beautiful. Obviously, we have had some success here, but we love the tournament and hope that it continues.”
Kelly Brazer and Tyla Nathan-Wong scored the other tries for New Zealand, while Ellia Green with two and Emma Tonegato scored for Australia. This difference came down to conversions, which New Zealand were 3/3 on the game thanks to expert kicking by Nathan Wong with all three, while Emma Sykes scored once.
The Americans, with a bronze showing, move up to second place, displacing Canada to third and Australia remains in fourth in the series standings.
As usual, Charity Williams, Bianca Farella and Ghislaine Landry did the heavy lifting on offense for Canada. Landry leads the series in points with 185, while Farella sits second in tries with 28.
The next HSBC World Series takes place in Biarritz, France, just minutes from the coastal border of Spain on the Bay of Biscay. The sixth and final HSBC tourney takes place on June 15 and 16. Canada will need to medal there to ensure a berth for Tokyo.