It’s a sign of how quickly things can turn in rugby sevens and how much the competition has stepped up their game in advance of Rio 2016.
After a perfect first day on home soil at Canada Sevens, the squad conceded their first (and only) loss of the tournament to France in the cup quarterfinal, relinquishing a late 12 point lead. Although the Canadian women redeemed themselves with a win in the plate final (more on that here), some lessons came with the loss to France.
“We’re always looking to go out and win the game but at the end of the day we need to perform to do that,” explained Ghislaine Landry. “I think the series is just getting so competitive that if you fall off tackles that close to your try line, it’s going to be a try. We work on it all the time but it’s just another lesson that every missed tackle is an opportunity for a try and that’s basically what happened.”
Canada suffered a heartbreaking 14-12 loss to France in the quarterfinals. The Canadians led the match 12-0 with two minutes to play, but missed tackles led to two tries late in the second half as France ran away with the win, advancing to the cup semifinal and sending Canada to the plate semifinal.
Winning the plate final set Canada at a fifth place finish for Canada Sevens, which in turn bumped them to fourth place in the overall series standings. The result was certainly not the showing that the Canadians had hoped for in Langford, BC, however ending the day with a win left the squad feeling confident about the final stop of the series, May 28-29 in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
“We just lost one game and probably played only two real bad minutes the whole tournament,” said head coach John Tait. “But that’s the beauty of sevens, the key moment when you come apart can be your undoing.”
No stranger to the unpredictable nature of the sevens game, the team knew it would do no good to dwell on the loss.
“(She) pulled us together and said ‘we need to leave it where it was and focus on the next match and we’ll revisit it after the tournament,’” said Jen Kish about Landry. “That’s exactly what we did.”
Although the focus now shifts to Clermont-Ferrand, the highest priority and strongest focus for these teams remains on Rio 2016.
“Each one of these tours is a stepping stone toward the Olympics,” said Britt Benn. “It’s figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t work.”
“It’s a learning process but to win it we’ve got to be on every second of the game,” said Kelly Russell. “We’re training hard these days, we’re going full at it, and it’s just mental. We have the skills, we have the game-plan, the systems, but we’ve got to be able to execute every second.”