The Canadian women’s rugby team qualifies for the Olympic Games in Paris, the men’s team meets another qualifier

Canada's women's rugby sevens team travels to the Paris Olympics next summer, but the men's team must keep trying to qualify.

The Canadian women defeated Mexico 53-0 on Sunday afternoon and won an Olympic qualifying tournament in Langford, while the men lost 24-14 to the USA in the final.

“I'm over the moon,” said a beaming Fancy Bermudez, who contributed a try in the Mexico clash before joining a wild cheer with his teammates in the middle of the field at Starlight Stadium, to the delight of the 3,811 players.

“We've worked so hard and it's the best feeling to finally make it.”

The Canadian women defeated St. Lucia 41-7 in early afternoon, giving up the only points in a weekend in which they bettered their opponents 288-7 in five games.

“We're happy with this result, but we're ready for more,” added Bermudez.

The women currently sit ninth in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and should exit that tournament with a ticket to France.

Women's coach Jack Hanratty said he felt “relieved” because “we were the favourites, so we haven't had that lead in a while so it's great to be able to confirm that.”

The men, meanwhile, defeated Mexico 54-5 in one of the day's earlier semifinals, but met a determined USA team in the final.

“Disappointing,” was the brief reply from men's coach Sean White after the severe setback.

The turning point in the men's final came at the start of the second half, when Canada just scored and drew 12-7. But a faulty lineout allowed American speedster Kevon Williams to devour the ball and sprint into the Canadian end to take a 19-7 lead.

“There are always swings in momentum,” White said. “We can't pin it down to a specific moment (but) … we were a little off.”

Canada captain Phil Berna couldn't hide his feelings after the defeat.

“We didn't go down without a fight,” Berna said. “It's been a long, tiring season for us, we've been fighting for our lives all year.”

The Canadian men need to win a hopefuls tournament later this year to qualify for Paris.

“It's going to be a dogfight with all the second-placed teams from the rest of the region,” said Berna.

Jamaica finished third and took the women's bronze, while Mexico took the men's bronze.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 20, 2023.

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