Rugby sevens women clip USA for top award, men defeat Australia for bowl championship

At the Las Vegas IRB sevens tourney: Rugby Canada's women remain tops in the world, men defeat Australia for bowl

Canada’s women’s team emerged as champions of the IRB Las Vegas Sevens tournament for the second year in a row with a 14-5 win over U.S.A. in the final on Sunday.

It was the women’s fifth straight major international tournament win.

Notching a converted try in each half, the Canadians overpowered their American rivals with strong pressure at the breakdown and brilliant counter-attacking play.

With rugby sevens due to be an Olympic sport in 2016, the U.S.A. has glommed onto it in a major way, with the men’s side of the tournament airing nationally by NBC over the weekend.

Captain Mandy Marchak and Ghislaine Landry scored tries for Canada and Ashley Steacy converted both. The team is now based out of Rugby Canada’s new high-performance centre in Langford but has long featured Velox’s own Barbara Mervin, a former provincial champion and World Cup 15s national player.

Canada men bowl over Australia

A trio of Victoria-based rugby players put in massive efforts as Canada upset the Australians 19-17 in the Las Vegas men’s bowl final on Sunday.

Based on a team’s placing in the three-game pool play, teams battle for the either the cup, bowl, plate or shield trophies, in that order.

UVic’s Nathan Hirayama and Sean Duke have both won bowl championships before with Canada and were leaders among a Canadian team rich in youth. Duke scored two tries, including the game-winner on the last play of the bowl final and Hirayama converted twice.

For James Bay Athletic Association player Taylor Paris, the weekend was a breakout on the international scene. The 19-year-old was the youngest player at the Rugby World Cup in September. On Friday, he scored the game winning try to push Canada past the U.S.A. in pool play, 19-12.

“We were disappointed we didn’t make the cup round, but we had a goal knowing we were in the bowl, to win the bowl, and following through always feels good,” Paris said.

He scored again in Canada’s victory over the Australians, and spoke of Canada’s success this year despite playing in just five of the nine IRB World Sevens series tournaments (Hong Kong is still to come, March 23-25).

“We put up some really good scores against tough teams and we believe we should be a core team (that plays in all nine), so (a result like this) strengthens that belief of ours.”

– From Rugby Canada