A strong showing by Napanee’s Britt Benn on home turf wasn’t enough to clinch an Olympic berth this weekend, as Canada’s women’s sevens rugby team finished fifth at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Series in Langford, BC.
The fifth place finish, coupled with a fourth place finish by France, means Canada’s ladies will have to wait until next month for another shot at punching their ticket to the 2020 games in Tokyo, Japan.
Canada opened the tournament with a 38-7 win over Brazil. In their second game they fell behind Ireland early before Benn came back with big run to tie the game at 5-5 at the half. In the second it was all Canada, as they picked up three unanswered tries and a convert to secure the 22-5 victory.
Canada’s momentum ran out from there however, as they closed out Day 1 with a 29-14 defeat at the hands of the Australians.
Any hope of clinching an Olympic berth at home was dashed in the cup quarter-finals, when they dropped a close 12-7 game to the U.S. After allowing a late try in the first half, Canada’s Charity Williams responded with a try and Ghislaine Landry kicked a convert to knot the game at 7-7. The U.S. quickly responded however, scoring the go ahead try and eventual game winner.
France would win their quarter-final match against England, meaning Canada would be unable to lock down the Olympic berth and would have to wait until the final stop of the series in Biarrtiz, France for a shot to qualify for the 2020 games.
Canada did finish off the weekend strong, earning a 31-0 win over Spain and a 31-7 win over England in the fifth place game.
For her efforts Benn was named the DHL Impact Player of the tournament, with 24 carries, 15 tackles, five offloads and four breaks.
Despite missing the podium this weekend, Canada is still in strong position to secure a trip to the Olympics. After this weekend’s series, Canada is third in the season standings with 78 points. New Zealand leads the way with 92, the U.S. second with 80. Australia is fourth with 74 while France is fifth with 60. The top four teams at the end of the season, which wraps up following the Biarritz Sevens June 15-16, qualify for the 2020 games. Teams are awarded 20 points for a first place finish in a series, 18 for second, 16 for third, 14 for fourth and 12 for fifth.