Seven things we learned from HSBC Canada Sevens
We recap the best of the action from BC Place as Argentina and New Zealand secured gold.
The first joint HSBC Canada Sevens did not disappoint as fans were treated to three engrossing days of action at BC Place.
New Zealand remain top of both the men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 standings but that does not begin to tell the story of the weekend.
Victory for the Black Ferns Sevens ensured they became the first team, apart from hosts France, to book their ticket to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
However, there was disappointment for the All Blacks Sevens as they failed to win a medal for the first time since Hong Kong in November. Argentina took advantage to win a second tournament in the 2023 Series.
With 25 days to go until the next tournament kicks off in Hong Kong, we run through seven things we learned in Vancouver.
Los Pumas Sevens are the real deal
Argentina continue to break new ground in the men’s Series, and in doing so they are putting New Zealand under real pressure at the top of the standings.
For the first time ever Los Pumas Sevens successfully defended a Series title, winning the HSBC Canada Sevens for the second year in a row.
As a result, they have solidified their place in second and closed the gap to the All Blacks Sevens above them to just 12 points with four tournaments to play.
Marcos Moneta and Tobias Wade were again among the standout performers as they beat France 33-21 in a thrilling Cup final at BC Place. More nights like Sunday and Santiago Gomez Cora’s side might just end their wait for the overall Series title.
Black Ferns Sevens extend Series lead
New Zealand underlined their dominance of the 2023 women’s Series with an impressive 19-12 Cup final defeat of Australia at BC Place.
A wonderful half-break and offload from Sarah Hirini to the onrushing Stacey Waaka at the end of the first half was the standout moment for the Black Ferns Sevens as they stretched their lead at the top of the standings to 14 points with only two events to go.
Waaka and Hirini both crossed the whitewash six times in Vancouver, while Michaela Blyde did so seven times and it is ominous ahead of Hong Kong and Toulouse that so many of their players appear to be in fine form.
Race to join Black Ferns Sevens in Paris too close to call
If results inside BC Place over the weekend are anything to go by then the race to book a place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games will go down to the wire.
In the women’s standings, Fiji and Great Britain both gained ground on Ireland, who currently hold the fourth and final ticket to France and are 10 and 14 points adrift with two tournaments still to play.
Things continue to be even closer in the men’s standings, with only 13 points separating Fiji in fourth and USA in ninth. With a maximum of 88 points still up for grabs in the final four tournaments, the picture will certainly change again before the finale in London.
Levi the most potent player in Vancouver
It is becoming more and more difficult to find fresh superlatives to describe exactly how good Australia’s Maddison Levi continues to be in 2023.
Levi scored another 12 tries in Vancouver – including four against Spain on day one and a hat-trick in the Cup semi-final win over USA – to take her season tally to 44. Only Portia Woodman-Wickliffe (52 in 2015) has scored more in a single season.
She is not merely a try-scorer, though. In Vancouver, Levi made 22 carries, 11 breaks and contributed nine tackles defensively, to finish third in the women’s DHL Impact Player Table.
Forner, Pasquet shine for France
France came within a whisker of winning a first men’s Series tournament since 2005 before late tries from Tobias Wade and Agustin Fraga gave Argentina the gold medal at BC Place.
An impressive weekend’s work lifts Les Bleus up to third in the standings, 25 points off top spot with four tournaments left, with Theo Forner and Varian Pasquet shining brightest in Vancouver.
Forner ended the tournament with eight tries, while he was tied with team-mate Pasquet at the top of the men’s DHL Impact Player Table. The duo were busy on both sides of the ball, making 13 and 18 tackles respectively while contributing 45 carries between them.
Milestones don’t weigh down decorated trio
Three of the most decorated players on the women’s circuit celebrated individual milestones in style at BC Place.
Australia captain Charlotte Caslick became the first woman to play 250 Series matches on day one and helped drive her side on to the silver medal. Caslick made 22 tackles, 16 carries and scored three tries, including one on her landmark appearance.
Ultimately, Australia lost out to women’s Series leaders New Zealand. Tyla Nathan-Wong, who was playing in her 50th international tournament for the Black Ferns Sevens, 41 of which have been in the Series, scored 41 points in Vancouver, including four in the Cup final.
Bianca Farella, meanwhile, set a new record as she appeared in a 45th Series tournament. She marked the occasion with three tries as Canada finished sixth on home soil.
Japan adrift at bottom of men’s standings
Time is running out for Japan to secure their place in the 2024 men’s Series.
Following their 14th-place finish in Vancouver, Japan have now amassed 10 points from seven tournaments and find themselves 24 points behind Uruguay, who currently occupy the 11th and final guaranteed spot in next year’s circuit.
With only four tournaments left this season, they are 10 points adrift of Canada, in the third and final play-off place, and must find some form in Hong Kong at the end of March if they are to avoid automatic relegation.