Canada women and USA men have become the eighth teams to confirm their participation in their respective competitions at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games after winning the 2023 Rugby Americas North (RAN) Sevens.
Following three wins on Saturday at Starlight Stadium in Langford and a 41-7 win against St Lucia in the semi-final, Canada’s women secured their place at new year’s global gathering with a comprehensive 53-0 victory against Mexico in Sunday’s final.
It was another standout display in attack and defence with Canada finishing the tournament having scored 288 points in their five games with only seven conceded in reply.
“I think we played some really good rugby in that final, and we were so connected,” said head coach Jack Hanratty. “I think we’ve been creative [with preparation] over the last couple weeks and that final, some of the style that we played was awesome. I’m just really proud and relieved that this group of people that we get to see every day get to enjoy a moment like this with their friends and family in a home stadium.”
With the win, Canada took the gold medal, becoming the first Canadian team (from a team sport) to qualify for Paris 2024 and joining USA who qualified directly via the World Series.
Runners-up Mexico and bronze medallists Jamaica qualify for the Olympic repechage tournament in 2024. Mexico also qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series as the highest-ranked team behind HSBC SVNS participants Canada.
USA men win battle of heavyweights
As anticipated, the men’s competition was dominated by the two heavyweight teams, USA and Canada.
The two-day tournament on Vancouver Island started without a hitch for USA, Mike Friday’s team scoring 102 points and 16 tries against Bermuda and Mexico, while keeping their own try-line intact.
As the top-performing team, USA earned a quarter-final bye on day two, before a 30-0 win over Jamaica, which featured a try for Ben Pinkelman on his return to the Men’s Sevens Eagles squad, saw them book their place in the final.
Canada had enjoyed a similarly serene passage through to the final with wins over Barbados, Jamaica and Mexico.
USA scored first in the final after a nail-biting opening few minutes, but their lead did not last long with Lockie Kratz’s converted try putting Canada in front.
In the final minute of the first half, however, the USA’s Perry Baker broke away to regain the lead for his team.
Leading 12-7, USA doubled their score in the second half, with the final try of the game belonging to Canada’s Alex Russell, converted by Kratz.
With a final score of 24-14, USA qualified for Paris 2024, with Canada taking the silver medal and a place in the repechage alongside bronze medallists Mexico, who edged Jamaica 10-7.
Mexico also qualify for the qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series as the highest-placed team other than USA and Canada who have both secured their place in the new HSBC SVNS competition in 2024.