Canadian women suffer narrow quarterfinal loss to Ireland in Toulouse rugby sevens

TOULOUSE, France — A late try by Eva Higgins lifted Ireland to a 22-21 rugby win over Canada in Cup quarterfinal play Saturday at the HSBC France Sevens.

TOULOUSE, France — A late try by Eva Higgins lifted Ireland to a 22-21 rugby win over Canada in Cup quarterfinal play Saturday at the HSBC France Sevens.

Ireland outscored the Canadian women three tries to one in the second half on a hot afternoon at Stade Ernest-Wallon to advance to the semifinals. Canada will play the U.S. in the consolation fifth-place semifinal Sunday.

Renee Gonzalez, Olivia Apps and Olivia De Couvreur scored tries for Canada with Apps and Breanne Nicholas combing for three conversions.

The Canadian women defeated Spain 26-12 and Scotland 14-7 on Friday but fell 17-0 to New Zealand in their final pool game Saturday. New Zealand topped the group, outscoring the opposition 91-0.

New Zealand will face Fiji in the Cup semifinals Sunday while Australia takes on Ireland.

The Canadian men lost 24-5 to England before upsetting Argentina 19-12 on Friday. 

Argentina came into the tournament in second place overall in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, having finished on the podium in five of the six previous events including a first-place finish at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver last time out in April.

Canada wrapped up pool play Saturday with a 40-14 win over Japan but missed out on the Cup quarterfinals on point differential behind England. 

Canada trailed Japan 14-7 at the half but took control with second-half tries from captain Phil Berna, Brennig Provost and Thomas Isherwood and a pair from Elisas Ergas. Cooper Coats kicked five conversions.

There was controversy in the other game in Canada’s pool when England’s Will Homer, with his side trailing 19-0, crossed the Argentina goal-line with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the match. 

Knowing the try would be enough to move England past Canada into the Cup quarterfinals on points differential, Homer elected to kill off the clock and didn’t touch the ball down until there was less than 30 seconds remaining — and little chance to affect their point differential.

Argentina, which moved into the quarterfinals with the win, did not bother to come after Homer until the game was in its final seconds. The South Americans won 19-7.

England and Canada finished pool play at 2-1-0 with England having a plus-18 points differential, compared to plus-14 for Canada.

The Canadians then lost 21-19 to Spain in the ninth-place quarterfinal with Juan Ramos scoring a try with one minute remaining and then making a difficult conversion from the sideline. Canada will faces Wales on Sunday in the 13th-place semifinal.

In the men’s Cup semifinals, it will be Ireland versus France and Fiji versus Samoa.

The Canadian men, whose roster turned over after an eighth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics, came to France 12th in the standings after finishing 10th in Vancouver. 

They need to move up the standings with just two events remaining after France. The bottom two of the 16 men’s core teams will be relegated at the end of the season.   

The Canadian women stood seventh overall going into Toulouse, their last event of their season.

Australia, with four tournament victories from the opening five rounds, was as women’s Series champions at the last round in Langford, B.C., where they beat New Zealand in the final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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