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Canadian men defeat Uruguay after weather delays at Los Angeles Sevens

Sunday win came after eight-game losing streak
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(Photo via The Canadian Press)

Canada finished a long day on a winning note, defeating Uruguay 26-10 at the Los Angeles Sevens to snap an eight-game losing streak.

The game ended early Sunday after a schedule interrupted by weather delays.

Conditions were a factor all day at Dignity Health Sports Park with the field wet from steady rain, making for difficult handling conditions. The threat of lightning twice halted proceedings for more than 90 minutes.

Canada put up some stiff resistance before dropping a 12-0 decision to South Africa to open pool play Saturday.

The weather forced the players off the pitch during the ninth match of the day between Britain and Spain. The teams eventually returned and five more matches were played. But the conditions did not improve and play was halted again during the Canada-Ireland match with the Irish leading 5-0.

The Irish, who stand ninth in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings, added 17 unanswered points when play resumed for a 22-0 win over No. 14 Canada.

The Canadians finally had cause to celebrate against No. 11 Uruguay.

After going down 5-0, Canada pulled ahead to lead 7-5 at the break on a converted Lockie Kratz try. After Baltazar Amaya’s try put the South Americans ahead 10-7, Canada reeled off three tries — two tries by Jake Thiel and one by Thomas Isherwood — to register the win.

Uruguay was coming off a 10-5 upset of No. 2 South Africa.

The L.A. tournament is the sixth stop on the men’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. Next up is the March 3-5 Canada Sevens, for both men and women, in Vancouver.

South Africa has beaten Canada in 30 of the last 31 meetings, with the one defeat coming in 2020 at the Canada Sevens when Canada won 26-19 to finish third.

The Blitzboks have won the U.S. tournament five times although they finished a disappointing 13th last year.

A Thiel try for Canada in the first half against South Africa was waved off after video review showed the Canadian’s leg was out of bounds before he touched the ball down.

Christie Grobbelaar eventually put South Africa on the board on the stroke of halftime after a line break by Ricardo Duarttee that started near the Blitzboks try-line.

Canada threatened midway through the second half but the attack fizzled when it was penalized at the breakdown.

Canada’s Josiah Morra was yellow-carded late in the game with South Africa taking advantage after a scrum as Duarttee sliced through the Canadian defence with the man advantage for a converted try and 12-0 lead.

Andrew Smith scored after the hooter to give Ireland a 7-0 win over Uruguay in the other early Pool B game.

Down in the standings, the Canadian men are in danger of relegation.

The World Series is reducing the number of men’s core teams for the 2024 season from 16 to 12, to equal the number of women’s teams and align with the Olympic competition structure.

The 15th-ranked core team following the 10th round in Toulouse on May 12-14 will be relegated. The teams ranked 12th, 13th and 14th 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 on May 20-21.

The relegation playoff will be a round-robin format with the top two teams meeting in the final. The winner becomes the 12th core team on the 2024 Series, while 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 will qualify automatically for the 2024 Paris Olympics. The New Zealand men currently top the table, ahead of South Africa, Samoa and France.

The Canadian women currently stand 10th in the standings.

The Canadian men are coming off a 15th-place finish in Sydney, Australia, where they lost all five 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.

They were 14th in New Zealand, Dubai and Cape Town after opening the season with a 10th-place finish in Hong Kong.

The Canadian Press

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