July 17th, 2024

Canada women learn rugby 7s path but will have to take the trip without star player

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on July 8, 2024.

Canada's rugby sevens women have been drawn in a pool with New Zealand, Fiji and China at the Paris Olympics later this month. Canada's Sophie de Goede carries the ball against the United States during the second half of a Pacific Four Series women's rugby match, Sunday, April 28, 2024, in Carson, Calif. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Marcio Jose Sanchez

Canada’s rugby sevens women have been drawn in a pool with New Zealand, Fiji and China at the Paris Olympics later this month.

The Canadians, who finished fifth in the HSBC SVNS overall standings this season, will play No. 6 Fiji and No. 1 New Zealand on July 28 before wrapping up Pool A play against China the next day.

The Chinese finished atop the second-tier World Rugby HSBC Sevens Challenger standings before winning promotion to the HSBC SVNS circuit, formerly known as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, last month in Madrid.

Canada did not qualify for the Olympic men’s competition, which runs July 25-27 followed by women’s play July 28-20.

The July 27 men’s final will produce the first team gold medal awarded at the Paris Games.

World Rugby says a full house of 69,000 fans is expected for every rugby sevens session in Stade de France, which hosted the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.

The Canadian women won bronze in 2016 in Rio, the first year rugby sevens were part of the Olympic program. Canada’s men finished eighth and the women ninth in Tokyo.

The 12 men’s and 12 women’s teams competing in Paris were allocated to three pools of four sides based on their Olympic seedings, with teams ranked according to their performances over the last two years of the HSBC SVNS Series.

Eight men’s and women’s teams advance to the knockout quarterfinals after the pool stage.

While Canada has yet to name its Olympic rugby sevens squad, 15s captain Sophie de Goede will not be part of it. The star backrower tore her anterior cruciate ligament at a recent training camp.

“Unfortunately, this means putting the Olympic dream on hold for now,” de Goede said in a statement issued by her English club team Saracens. “It’s hard to really wrap my head around what the next while could look like. I’m sure there will be many ups and downs, progress isn’t linear, but I’ll strive to embrace and attack this challenge with as much determination as I know I can.

“I’ll be cheering the girls on at the Olympics … and I look forward to rejoining them as soon as I can with newfound strength and resilience.”

De Goede was a nominee for World Rugby’s Women’s 15s Player of the Year award in 2022 and, along with Canadian hooker Emily Tuttosi, was named to World Rugby’s Women’s 15s dream team the same year.

No. 3 Australia, No. 7 Ireland, No. 8 Britain and No. 11 South Africa make up the women’s Pool B at the Olympics while Pool C is comprised of No. 3 France, the fourth-ranked U.S., No. 9 Japan and No. 10 Brazil.

On the men’s side, Pool A consists of No. 2 Ireland, No. 3 New Zealand, No. 7 South Africa and Japan while Pool B is made up of No. 1 Argentina, No. 4 Australia, No. 11 Samoa and Kenya and Pool C is comprised of No. 5 France, No. 6 Fiji, the ninth-ranked U.S. and Uruguay.

Uruguay, Kenya and Japan finished first, second and eighth, respectively, in the Challenger standings. Uruguay and Kenya subsequently won promotion to the HSBC SVNS circuit.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2024

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