The Canadian women’s rugby sevens team made a triumphant return to Langford on Saturday, winning their first leg match of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 19-10 against Spain.
Kicking off with a game between Team USA and Fiji, the two-day tournament was also making a comeback, having been on hiatus since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Despite the foggy weather, fans flocked to Starlight Stadium to watch a full day of games between some of the best women’s teams in the world. In true rugby sevens tradition, many spectators donned elaborate costumes ranging from a Statue of Liberty to monsters, with plenty of flags and red throws to support the local heroes of the Canadian team.
“It’s good, it’s really good. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said young fan Elin Ekernas, who flew in from Denver, Colorado with her mother for the tournament. “I’m mostly rooting for the United States and New Zealand, those are my favourites. New Zealand is so cool, they are so good.
“We love watching women’s rugby, sevens or fifteens, it’s such a great sport for girls,” added mum Karen Ekernas. “I think it shows you what you can do when you’re strong and powerful. There are a lot of great role models in the sport. »
Among the first fans to arrive on Saturday morning, the Ekernas were able to secure the United States’ 20-19 victory over Fiji.
Team USA dominated the game in the first half, with Kris Thomas and Ilona Maher each scoring a try without a successful conversion, and the team retaining possession for most of the half.
Kayla Canett gave the Americans a third try at the start of the second half, but the Fijian team showed that they were far from giving up.
Reapi Ulunisau earned Fiji’s first try of the game and Lavenia Cavuru kicked in the game’s first conversion for either side. Shortly after, Alowesi Nakoci scored his team’s second try but the conversion was not good.
Determined to maintain their side’s lead against a surging Fiji, USA side Jaz Gray scored a fourth try for their team but again the conversion was not a good one.
With one minute left before regulation time, Fiji’s Nakoci scored her second try of the match, with teammate Viniana Riwai performing a good conversion, meaning the match was decided by a single point in favor of the States. -United.
The Canadian team took to the field for their first match to thunderous applause from the home crowd, which had visibly filled out during the morning.
Keyara Wardley quickly found herself the center of attention of the cheering crowd as she scored the first try of the game, pushing Canada into the lead after four minutes. Her teammate Breanne Nicholas kicked in a good conversion.
Spain were quick to respond, however, with Maria Calvo scoring a try minutes later, but the conversion was not good. Teammate Lea Ducher put Spain ahead for the first time early in the second half, but without a conversion the game remained within Canada’s reach.
Bianca Farella quickly earned a second try for the Canadians, with Nicholas making a good conversion. With just two minutes remaining in regulation time, Wardley scored his second try of the match, winning it for Canada despite the conversion failing.
The tournament continues Sunday with the first playoff game starting at 10 a.m. and the cup final at 5 p.m.