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The way for rugby to make most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

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I have found it fascinating following the debate this week regarding the future of the global game. You could almost hear the tectonic plates shifting as one by one club owners and administrators acknowledged problems which have long been issues but which have now been brought to the fore by the coronavirus pandemic; the over-reliance on television revenues, on rich benefactors, the unsustainable commercial structure of club rugby, the unwieldy international calendar, the self-interest which has influenced decisions.

The interesting thing is that this crisis might actually prove to be good for the game in the long run. I thought London Irish owner Mick Crossan was spot on when he said the pandemic might be the “the kick up the backside” the professional game needs – for all the right reasons.

Certainly that is the way the game has to look at it. As much as there is going to be short-term pain, this forced hiatus has at least provided an opportunity to hit the reset button (off the field at least – onfield, in my opinion, the game has never looked so good).

When you think about it, it’s easy to see how we have reached this point. After the initial ‘land grab’ when the game went professional in the mid-1990s, everything has just been bolted on; a competition here, a TV deal there. We have had 25 years of largely opportunistic growth. Every union, every league, every tournament developed down its own path, with the result that everyone is out to protect their own interests. 



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USA Rugby

South Africa triumph on World Rugby Sevens Series return in Vancouver

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South Africa beats Kenya for Vancouver rugby sevens title

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Winger Angelo Davids two tries in the opening five minutes to lead South Africa to a 28-5 win over Kenya and the Vancouver Sevens men’s title.

The pair of tries in the final were among 10 that Davids, who has also played 15-a-side Super Rugby with South Africa’s Stormers, scored in six matches in the two-day sevens tournament.

Calum Randle scored a pair of first-half tries as Britain beat Ireland 24-14 for third place.

The tournament was missing many of its top-ranked teams. Despite the series recommencing after an 18-month layoff, Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalists Fiji, silver medalists New Zealand, Australia and Samoa did not play due to COVID-19 quarantine and travel restrictions.

In the match for fifth place, Matai Leuta scored tries in the eighth and 12th minutes as the U.S. beat Canada 26-7.

In quarterfinals completed earlier Sunday, Ireland beat Hong Kong 12-7, Kenya defeated the United States 19-14, Britain beat Canada 31-5 and South Africa overwhelmed Spain 54-5.

In the women’s Fast Four, Britain beat the U.S. 34-12 in the gold medal match and Canada defeated Mexico 48-0 for third place in the four-team event. Jasmine Joyce scored twice in the opening two minutes and added a third try in the eighth to lead Britain.

The sevens series moves to Edmonton, Alberta next weekend.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports



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Canada survives elimination with victory over Spain in rugby 7s at Vancouver

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The Canadian men’s rugby sevens team avoided elimination from a World Sevens Series tournament in Vancouver with a 33-19 win Sunday over Spain.

North Vancouver winger Elias Ergas scored two tries for the Canadians, who battled back from a 14-5 deficit.

After falling 31-5 to Britain in an earlier quarter-final Sunday, the host Canadians salvaged the chance to play the United States for fifth place.

“Throughout the whole tournament we made a big deal of no matter what is happening in front of us, just keep our heads up, trust our skills, our athleticism our fitness,” said Ergas, whose first World Sevens Series tournament was in his hometown.

WATCH | Canadian men handily defeats Spain to survive elimination in rugby 7s:

HSBC Men’s World Rugby Sevens Vancouver: Canada vs Spain

Watch Canada face Spain in 5th place semifinal action at the HSBC Rugby Sevens world tour stop in Vancouver B.C. 20:57

”We had some solid defence in the first half’

Canada’s women were even with the U.S. at halftime before giving up 10 points to lose a “Fast Four” semifinal.

Canada was to take on Mexico for the bronze medal Sunday.

Britain blanked the Mexicans 38-0 in the other semifinal and met the Americans in the final.

WATCH | Canadian women fall to U.S. in fast four quarter-finals:

HSBC World Rugby Women’s Vancouver Fast Four semifinal: USA vs Canada

Watch USA face Canada in semifinal action at the HSBC World Rugby women’s fast four tournament in Vancouver B.C. 24:11

Renee Gonzalez, of Scarborough, Ont., scored both Canadian tries. Chloe Daniels of Sutton, Ont., kicked two converts.

“I think we had some solid defence in the first half,” said Emma Chown, of Barrie, Ont. “In the second half we lacked a bit of possession.

“Our defence was solid, but if you don’t have the ball you can’t score tries.”

Canada’s bounce back effort

The Canadian men trailed Spain 14-12 at halftime.

“We weren’t too nervous,” said Victoria’s Brennig Prevost, who scored a try and kicked four converts. “We knew we were right in the game.

“We stuck together.”

Nicholas Allen of West Vancouver, B.C., and Victoria’s Ciaran Breen also scored tries.

In the quarter-final match, an early turnover and a penalty resulted in a pair of tries for Britain.

WATCH | Canada falls to Britain in quarter-final rugby 7s action:

HSBC Men’s World Rugby Sevens Vancouver: Great Britain vs Canada – Quarterfinals

Watch Great Britain face Canada in quarterfinals action at the HSBC Rugby Sevens world tour stop in Vancouver B.C. 22:17

Canada possessed the ball in the game’s early stages but couldn’t crack a strong British defence.

A Canadian turnover led to Britain’s first try.

Canadian captain Phil Berna was assessed a penalty for intentionally knocking down a pass later in the half. Playing a man short, the Canadians gave up another try to trail 14-5 at half time.

The British dominated the second half scoring three more tries. Victoria’s Jack Carson scored Canada’s lone try of the match.

“We were strong out of the gate, but we couldn’t manage to keep it together for the full half,” Carson said. “That’s probably the most elite team we played so far, and it gives us some stuff to look at heading into our next game.”

9 Canadians make series debut

Canada defeated Germany 24-5 and Chile 19-14 before losing 29-17 to the U.S. on Saturday.

The Canadian women fell 22-12 to the U.S. and 19-5 to Britain before defeating Mexico 39-0 on Saturday.

The Canadian men fielded a young side with nine players making their series debut.

Several veterans including Nate Hirayama, Connor Braid, Justin Douglas and Conor Trainor all retired after the summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo where Canada finished eighth.

Vancouver’s tournament is the first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series event since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the circuit in March of 2020.

Pandemic concerns limited attendance at BC Place Stadium at around 13,500 in the lower bowl, but fans in the stands still dressed for the occasion.

Tourney features only 12 teams

A group of nuns sat near several monks. There were plenty of superheroes, furry creatures and fuzzy wigs. The Mandolin watched games with Baby Yoda on his lap.

A large white unicorn showed some surprisingly good dance moves. Pirates snacked on popcorn while several pink pigs sipped beer.

The Vancouver tournament features only a dozen men’s teams instead of the standard 16. Rugby powerhouses New Zealand, Fiji, Australia and Samoa skipped the event.

World Rugby says there will be no relegation from the 2021 Series, and results will not count toward seedings for future events.

The Canadian teams will head to Edmonton for next week’s stop in the series.

WATCH | CBC Sports’ preview of Canada’s Rugby Sevens’ return:

Previewing Canada Rugby Sevens return to the pitch

CBC’s Anastasia Bucsis is joined by former Rugby Canada player Andrea Burk to preview the Canadian men’s and women’s rugby sevens tournament as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series returns in Vancouver. 7:03

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