Women’s Rugby

It’s two in a row for the mighty Maple Leafs

Victory was hardly a surprise as Canada aim for 2016 Rio Games

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 3:02pm

The mighty Maple Leafs triumphed for the second year running at the Cathay Pacific/HSBC Women's Rugby Sevens, with Canada scoring a convincing 24-0 win in the main stadium against France last night.

With the resources available to the fully professional team, it was hardly a surprise. Canada boasts a 21-strong, full-time squad that live and train in a central facility, with eyes firmly set on the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The 2013 World Cup runners-up (to New Zealand) conceded only one try in the whole tournament - and that was only a minor hiccup as coach John Tait allowed game time for younger members of the squad, such as 17-year-old schoolgirl Hannah Darling, who went on to score the final try against France in the final.

"They put in an extreme amount of work," said Tait of his team's commitment.

"For the past two years they've been training full-time for six months of the year; this year it's 10 months and next year it will be 11. It's essential to be competitive in the game of sevens these days."

French coach David Courteix said: "The Olympics have changed everything." Despite being "overwhelmingly proud" of the fight his team put up against the elite Canadians, "we can be better", he said.

Until now, France's focus have been squarely on XVs. Courteix's women only train part-time until, he hopes, next season where he will get full-time commitment and the required resources.

"In France, we don't play enough sevens … I hope that if we train like a professional team, we won't be far off beating teams like Canada."

Although Japan posted high-scoring wins against Singapore and Ireland in the pool games, they too flailed against Canada in the Cup semi-finals, losing 38-0. They eventually settled for fourth place behind South Africa, after a 28-10 loss.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan rattled the status quo by winning the Plate against China with a 12-7 win. "It was disappointing to lose, but we have a lot of improvement to make. We have only just come back as a national squad after a long break … but the potential is there," said player Liu Yang.

For China, the performance is merely a stepping stone towards the Asian Games in September, where coach Zheng Hongjun is gunning for gold.

"With the development of the women's sevens programme throughout Asia, for example with Hong Kong, it will be tough. But we are confident."