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Matt Percillier joins Canada as an injury replacement at South Africa Sevens

Matt Percillier has joined Canada ahead of this weekend's HSBC SVNS Cape Town, stepping in for the injured Alex Russell.

The South African competition is the second stop of the HSBC SVNS season, formerly known as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The Canadian men finished 12th in last weekend's Emirates Dubai 7s, losing all five outings. As a result, they find themselves in another tough group in Cape Town with Australia, New Zealand and defending South Africa Sevens champion Samoa.

The defending Series champion All Blacks finished third in Dubai while Samoa was sixth and Australia seventh.

The Canadian women, who placed fourth in Dubai, have been drawn in a pool with France, South Africa and the U.S. The French defeated the Canadians 26-5 in the third-place game in Dubai while the Americans placed seventh and South Africa 10th.

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

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 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. 6, 2023

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press