The Langford-based Canadian women’s sevens rugby team gained a measure of revenge for an earlier Olympic tournament loss to Great Britain and came away with a bronze medal after beating the Brits 33-10 on Monday in Rio de Janeiro.
The Canadians were all smiles after the convincing win at Deodoro Stadium, after suffering the disappointment of losing the earlier semifinal 17-5 to eventual champion Australia. The Aussies beat arch rival New Zealand 24-17 later Monday for gold.
Canada head coach John Tait was thrilled with the results, which mirrored the pre-Olympic rankings established with this year’s World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series results.
“I’m just really proud of the girls. I’m so happy to have a medal, to walk away with something,” he said after the bronze match.
“The girls showed Canada how good they really are and this medal means a lot to me. This is such a great game and so many people are going to be switched onto it now. Hopefully that’s going to keep us competitive and have us on the podium again in 2020.”
The celebration of the team’s medal result extended back to Langford, where a collection of fans and officials that included hall of fame rugby player Gareth Rees of Victoria gathered to watch the day’s games at the Fan Zone at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort.
Monday’s medal round match was quite different than the previous day’s pool play contest between the teams, won 22-0 by Great Britain.
Canada attacked from the opening kickoff and never trailed in the match, taking a 26-5 lead into the break and limiting the Brits’ chances in the second half with hard tackling and stifling defensive play.
Scoring for Canada in the match was spread around, with Ghislaine Landry going over for two tries and kicking four converts, while Karen Paquin, Bianca Farella and Kelly Russell also went over the try line.
In the semifinal, the big Australian team took full advantage of rare ball handling errors by Canada and looked very much like the team that won the World Rugby series this year.
Leading 12-0 at the break, the Aussies opened up a 17-0 advantage in the second half before Canada could get on the board. Speedy rookie Charity Williams made the most of her limited playing time during the Olympics, scoring a try with 30 seconds left in the match to prevent a second Canadian shutout in the tournament.
Canada had gone 2-1 in preliminary round play with wins over Japan (45-0) and Brazil (38-0) giving them second in Pool C behind Great Britain.