It may have been the lowest scoring final in HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series history, but Canada’s 7-5 victory over England in the HSBC Kitakyushu Sevens final was a nail-biting encounter that was only settled with the final kick of the game at Mikuni World Stadium on Sunday.
England looked on course to claim their first Cup title since April 2016 as the clock turned to red with them leading 5-0 after Amy Wilson Hardy’s try late in the first half, but Canada dug deep and worked their way from one end of the field to the other before captain Ghislaine Landry found a gap in the defence to run round behind the posts to give herself a straightforward conversion to win the match.
Landry, playing in her 30th series tournament, made no mistake with the conversion to break English hearts and secure a first title for Canada since February 2017 to ensure they leave Japanese shores far happier than 12 months ago when they posted their worst ever finish of 11th.
Canada’s victory has moved them up to second place in the series standings with 66 points, now only six behind New Zealand who finished fifth in Kitakyushu.
Bronze medallists USA have slipped to third as a result on 64 points with defending series champions Australia fourth with 56 and France fifth on 46.With the top four teams in the series to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the significance of this success was not lost on HSBC Player of the Final Landry with Canada now sitting 20 points clear of France with only two rounds remaining, on home soil in Langford and in Biarritz, France.
“It’s huge, we know that [Olympic qualification] is what it is all about. That is our main goal this season and to get a Cup final on top of that is a good feeling,” Landry said. “It was such a fight, time is up and the girls kept their composure and to be able to finish that off feels pretty great.
“Everything we threw at them they had an answer for, so testament to England, they had a great weekend and gave us everything they had in that final. Sevens is such a hard game and in the last play of the last game it is a bit of a battle of the mind and we came out on top in that.”
Coach John Tait added: “Our goal for this season was to come top four and take one of those Olympic qualifier spots so we took a massive step towards that this weekend and that is just what we are going to keep focusing on.
“We will look to perform better, I don’t think we hit our stride fully in this tournament and that is encouraging as we won. If we can put our attack together with some of the defence we played I think that is a lot of positives to come.”
The penultimate round of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series 2019 takes place in Langford in Victoria, Canada, on 11-12 May.