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Canadian rugby sevens women finish fourth in Dubai in season-opening event

DUBAI CITY, United Arab Emirates — Canada finished fourth on the women's side of the Emirates Dubai 7s on Sunday after falling 26-5 to France in the Cup third-place playoff.

The Dubai event marks the season kickoff of the rebranded HSBC SVNS, formerly known as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Canadians, who went 2-1-0 on the opening day including a 29-0 loss to the French, defeated Ireland 14-12 in the quarterfinal on the strength of tries by Charity Williams and Kristy Scurfield. The Irish made it close with a late try but missed the conversion that would have tied the score.

Canada led defending Series champion New Zealand 21-14 late in the ensuing semifinal but conceded a 13th-minute converted try to Jorja Miller to lose 21-19. Florence Symonds and Carissa Norsten scored tries for Canada, which trailed 14-7 at the break.

Olivia Apps scored the lone Canadian try in the third-place playoff that saw the French lead 19-0 at the half. Australia, last season's Series runner-up, upset New Zealand 26-19 in the Cup final thanks to a 13th-minute converted try by Maddison Levi.

The Canadian women finished ninth overall last season with sixth place in both Vancouver and Hong Kong as their best showing.

It was a different story Sunday for the Canadian men who finished 12th and last after falling 21-14 to Britain in the ninth-place semifinal and 19-14 to Spain in the 11th-place playoff.

Canada lost all five outings at the tournament, beaten 26-21 by reigning Series champion New Zealand, 35-14 by defending Dubai title-holder South Africa and 24-0 by Samoa on Saturday.

The Canadian men pushed the All Blacks to the limit in their opening game, however, New Zealand got a late converted try by Fehi Fineanganofo for the win.

South Africa won the men's Cup final Sunday, dispatching Argentina 12-7. New Zealand downed Fiji 17-12 to place third.

Phil Berna and Kalin Sager scored tries for Canada in the loss to Britain, which trailed 14-7 at the half and pulled ahead on a late try by Harry Glover. Jack Carson and Sager had Canada's tries against Spain.

The slimmed-down sevens circuit features seven regular-season events, each featuring men's and women's competition, plus a grand final with promotion and relegation at stake.

Vancouver is the fourth stop of the season, scheduled for Feb. 23-25 after Dubai, Cape Town and Perth, Australia. The teams then go to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Singapore before wrapping up in Madrid May 31 to June 2.

The men's field has been cut to 12 core teams from 16 to match the women's setup as well as the Olympic competition.

Canada retained its core team status in dramatic fashion, defeating Kenya 12-7 in the relegation playoff final in May in London thanks to a last-minute try by Alex Russell. The Canadian men were forced into the playoff after finishing 14th in the season standings.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2023

The Canadian Press