Canadian men split pair of matches to open rugby 7s World Series stop in Spain

Canada’s men’s rugby sevens team held on for a 19-17 victory over Kenya to open the World Series tournament on Friday in Spain. However, a blowout loss to follow against France left them at 1-1 in group play.

Against Kenya, Canada scored three consecutive tries to answer their opponent’s opening score to take a 19-5 lead early in the second half.

Cooper Coats, Josiah Morra and Alex Russell each rumbled into the end zone, with Coats provided a pair of conversions.

The Canadians wobbled late, allowing a pair of tries to close the match, but a missed conversion made the difference and Canada escaped with the two-victory.

WATCH | Canada escapes with win over Kenya:

HSBC Men’s World Rugby Sevens Series Malaga: Canada vs. Kenya

Watch the Canadian men face Kenya at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop in Malaga, Spain. 22:46

Later, France destroyed Canada to the tune of 38-5, with Phil Berna provided the Canadians’ lone score.

Canada’s final match in group play is against Wales on Saturday.

WATCH | France upends Canada:

HSBC Men’s World Rugby Sevens Series Malaga: Canada vs. France

Watch the Canadian men play France at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop in Malaga, Spain. 22:49

Meanwhile, the Canadian women equaled the men’s 1-1 record.

Following a 22-7 loss to the US in which Alex Tessier scored Canada’s lone try, the Canadians took a walkover win over Fiji, who did not make it to Spain due to COVID-19.

WATCH | Canadian women fall to US:

HSBC Women’s World Rugby Sevens Series Malaga: Canada vs. USA

Watch the Canadian women take on the United States at the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series stop in Malaga, Spain. 22:38

Canada’s men rank eighth after a pair of top-six finishes to open the season, while the women sit 10th.

The 2022 World Series season kicked off in late November in Dubai with the first of two events for both men and women.

Several teams, including New Zealand, have been unable to take part because of pandemic-related restrictions.

Live coverage of the event from Spain resumes Saturday at 2:50 am ET on CBCSports.ca, the free CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Vancouver stop delayed

A day earlier,Vancouver’s stop on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was being delayed two months due to the pandemic.

The HSBC Canada Sevens, originally slated for Feb. 26-27 at BC Place Stadium, has been pushed back to April 16-17, “to provide the best opportunity to ensure the safety of fans, athletes, officials and staff.”

“The decision to reschedule is based on the unfolding COVID-19 conditions in BC, and has been made with consideration for the health and welfare of players, fans, staff and wider society,” Jamie Levchuk, Rugby Canada’s managing director of business operations, said in a statement.

“Should the COVID-19 pandemic continue as a safety concern for longer than anticipated, we will work with World Rugby and stakeholders to hold the 2022 HSBC Canada Sevens at a time when the conditions are right.”

Tickets already purchased will automatically transfer to the new April dates, Rugby Canada said.

The Los Angeles event, scheduled for March 5-6, will move to Aug. 27-28 and serve as the final of the men’s season.

The World Series grounded to a halt in March 2020 due to COVID-19 after the Canadian men won bronze at the Canada Sevens in Vancouver. A truncated 2021 season featured just two events, in Vancouver and Edmonton, last September with several teams unable to travel.

Rugby Canada says a women’s sevens event set to start April 30 in Langford, BC, is still on schedule.

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