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New Zealand men and women dominate while Canada teams struggle at HSBC Sydney Sevens

Canadian women ended 9th, while men ended 15th
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Canada’s Fancy Bermudez grabs the ball from an Australian player during the second half of rugby action at the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C., on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Bermudez scored two tries in a losing cause against Brazil at the HSBC Sydney Sevens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The New Zealand men and women both won their finals at the Sydney Sevens on Sunday to extend their leads atop the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings.

The New Zealand men blanked South Africa 38-0 to record their fourth straight podium finish in five events this season. Fiji beat France 29-5 in the bronze-medal match.

The All Blacks were runners-up in South Africa and New Zealand and third in Dubai.

The Black Ferns sevens side defeated France 35-0 for their third straight title and four consecutive podium. The U.S. beat Ireland 12-5 to take bronze.

The Canadian women finished ninth, rebounding from pool losses to the U.S. (14-12), Britain (19-15) and Fiji (34-7) to defeat Spain 27-10 and Brazil 24-21 in consolation play.

Canada dropped one spot to No. 10 in the overall rankings.

The Canadian women rallied with three late tries — two by Fancy Bermudez and one by Renee Gonzalez — to down the Brazilians. Nakisa Levale also scored a try for Canada with Olivia Apps and Chloe Daniels each adding a conversion.

The Black Ferns upped their World Series tournament wins total to 30. And they did it in style, scoring six tries in the final while marking their fourth clean sheet of the competition.

It was another disappointing showing for the Canadian men, who tied for 15th. They lost all five tournament outings, beaten in pool play by Argentina (24-19), Australia (22-7) and Britain (33-5) before falling 35-14 to Tonga, an invitational team, and 17-14 to Spain in consolation play.

Canada led Spain 14-0 at the half on tries by Thomas Isherwood and Josiah Morra before conceding three second-half tries to go down to defeat. It was that kind of tournament for the Canadians, who endured a similar second-half collapse in the opener against an Argentina side coming off a Cup win in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The Canadian men slipped one rung to No. 14 in the standings after five events and find themselves mired in the relegation zone, with World Rugby trimming the men’s field to 12 from 16 next season.

The 15th-ranked core team after the penultimate stop of the season in Toulouse will be relegated. The 12th-, 13th- and 14th-ranked teams at the end of Toulouse will enter a four-team relegation playoff together with the Challenger Series 2023 winners at the 11th and final round of the Series in London.

The relegation playoff will be a round-robin format with the top two teams meeting to decide who will become the 12th core team on the 2024 World Series. The other three teams will enter their respective Regional Sevens Championships in order to qualify for the 2024 World Rugby Sevens Challenger Series.

The top four men’s and women’s teams at the end of the season automatically qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and France top the men’s standings after five rounds while New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., and France make up the women’s top four after four stops.

Vancouver hosts the Canada Sevens for the men and women March 3-5.

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The Canadian Press

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