Canadian Olympic Preview 2024: Women’s Rugby Sevens

Charity Williams (Rugby Canada)

Prior to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021, the expectations for the Canadian National Women’s Rugby Sevens program were relatively high. They qualified for the Olympic Games by finishing third in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series behind only New Zealand and the United States.

However at the Olympics three years ago, the Canadian team simply was flat, and failed to play as a cohesive unit. Despite giving Brazil a 33-0 smackdown in their opening contest, Canada lost 26-12 to Fiji and 31-0 to France. The French loss was bitterly disappointing, because Canada needed a win to advance out of Group B.

Initially, the Canadian Women’s Rugby Sevens program experienced a slow transition after their Olympic failure. They finished in seventh place overall in the 2021-22 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series, and in ninth place overall in the 2022-23 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series.

There were no signs that Canada would get out of their rut until a dominant performance in Olympic qualifying. Sure, Canada benefitted by the fact the United States already qualified by finishing third in the 2022-23 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series (qualified along with Australia, New Zealand and Ireland), but the fact Canada was fantastic in their five wins in Langford, British Columbia, cannot go unnoticed. Canada won all five games by a grand total of 288-7, and generated momentum heading into the Olympic season.

So far in 2023-24, there have been more signs of optimism on the global stage, specifically the 2023-24 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series season. Canada improved to fifth place (behind New Zealand, Australia, France and the United States), and even won a bronze medal at at a World Rugby Women’s Sevens event at BC Place in Vancouver in February. It was a notable season for Carissa Norsten of Waldheim, Saskatchewan, who was the Women’s Rugby Sevens Series Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, Canadian Olympic gold medalist Charity Williams of Toronto, Ontario, and Kris Scurfield of Canmore, Alberta’ led Canada during the 2023-24 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series season with 20 tries each. Williams won the bronze medal for Canada in women’s rugby sevens at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. 

At the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Canada is in Pool A with Fiji, New Zealand and China. They play Fiji at 9:30 am on July 28, New Zealand at 1:30 pm on July 28, and China at 8 am on July 29.

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