Seven reasons to get excited about HSBC Canada Sevens
BC Place in Vancouver will host both the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series across three compelling days this weekend.
Charlotte Caslick marked her record 250th match in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with a try for Australia on a superb opening day at the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver.
Caslick scored Australia’s third try in a 26-7 win against Japan and added another as Spain were brushed aside, 48-0, thanks to a four-timer from the Series’ leading try scorer, Maddison Levi.
“It was awesome, I loved leading them out,” said Caslick, who finished the day as the DHL Impact Player for her performances against Japan and Spain.
Australia, who won last year’s event in Canada, were joined in winning both of their matches on the opening day by current Series leaders, New Zealand, France, Ireland and the USA.
Michaela Blyde scored a quickfire first-half hat-trick, the first coming from an 80-metre dash, to get New Zealand off to a flying start against the invited team, Colombia.
The Black Fern Sevens ran in 10 tries, including one for Tyla Nathan-Wong in her 50th tournament appearance in the black jersey, in a 60-0 win, which was then followed by a 43-7 victory against Great Britain, where Nathan-Wong was again on the scoresheet.
Great Britain produced the comeback and the result of the day, overturning a 10-7 half-time deficit against Fiji to win 26-24. Debutant Rhona Lloyd scored at the death to level the scores and Megan Jones held her nerve to kick the all-important conversion. The win means Great Britain sits second behind the Black Ferns Sevens.
The prolific Maddison Levi took her try tally for this year’s Series to 38 with six more tries across Australia’s first two games.
The magic 40-try mark for the season is now well within her reach. Only Portia Woodman, twice, and Michaela Blyde, have ever got that many in a single Series before.
Levi bagged a brace in the opening 26-7 win against Japan before doubling that count as Spain were well beaten.
Spain had no answer to Australia’s ability to put width on the ball and were left chasing shadows, and Levi, for much of the game.
Building on their silver medal in Sydney, France also won both of their games at a relative canter.
Les Bleues Sevens had their first game against Spain won by half-time after establishing a 19-0 lead. To their credit, Las Leonas stayed in the fight to score two tries of their own after the break, but late tries from Jade Ulutule and Chloe Jacquet secured a 33-14 victory.
France then put six tries on Japan in a 40-7 win.
Congratulations to Bianca Farella on playing in her 44th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament! 🤩🇨🇦 She is now tied with Australia's Sharni Williams for the all-time women's record.#RugbyCA pic.twitter.com/v9v6nL5wjf— Rugby Canada (@RugbyCanada) March 4, 2023
Canada’s Bianca Farella equalled Sharni Williams’ record for most women’s Series tournament appearances with this her 44th event.
However, the 30-year-old was unable to inspire Canada to victory on day one, to the disappointment of the vocal home crowd at BC Place.
Instead, it was Ireland and the USA who took top honours in Pool C with two wins from two.
Amee-Leigh Murphy Crowe holds the record for most tries scored in a single women’s tournament at the HSBC Canada Sevens with 12 last year, and the speedster wasted no time in opening her account this time around, scoring the first of her side’s four tries in a 28-7 win against the hosts.
Lucy Mulhall, who was successful with every conversion, scored herself in the next game, a 31-7 win against Brazil.
USA overcame Brazil, 20-7, but had a battle on their hands in the North American derby against Canada.
An extremely physical encounter ended 17-12 to the Women’s Sevens Eagles, who look on track to maintain their record of medalling at every event so far this year.
The games between Australia and France, New Zealand and Fiji and USA and Ireland are the standout fixtures when the pool stages conclude on Saturday.
Big players turn up for the big occasions and Australia’s Charlotte Caslick delivered in spades for her team.
Caslick was at the heart of the action, whether it was making try assists or scoring herself, carrying the ball, breaking tackles, or executing offloads.
Her performances earned her 28 points on the ratings, one more than France’s equally influential Caroline Drouin.