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Fifteens and SVNS: Canada stun New Zealand with another ‘special’ upset

By Finn Morton
Canada celebrate on day two of the HSBC SVNS Grand Final at Stadium Civitas Metropolitano on 1 June, 2024 in Madrid, Spain. Photo credit: Mike Lee - KLC fotos for World Rugby

It’s been an unforgettable two weeks for Olivia Apps. After contributing to Canada’s history-making triumph in the Pacific Four Series, where they beat New Zealand for the first time in 15s, Apps has helped inspire the same upset on the SVNS Series.

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Poor discipline cost the Black Ferns a fortnight ago in Christchurch, and the visitors made the most of it as they recorded a stunning 22-19 win at Apollo Projects Stadium. History often repeats and it was a similar story in Madrid as the Canadians ran riot.

The Black Ferns Sevens were caught out after making some uncharacteristic mistakes, including some missed one-on-one tackles, and a yellow card to youngster Jorja Miller was another big moment just before the half.

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Canada were already leading 14-nil when Miller was sent to the sin bin, and that penalty allowed the underdogs to kick for the corner. They ended up retaining their lineout and scoring through Piper Logan in the seventh minute.

To the surprise of everyone at Civitas Metropolitano, SVNS League winners New Zealand trailed a frighteningly clinical Canadian outfit 21-nil at the break. At that moment, Olivia Apps thought quite triumphantly, “We did that.”

“When it was still nil for them, I felt like, ‘woah’. I was thinking about the commentator, I was thinking about Rikki Swannell being like, ‘New Zealand hasn’t scored yet and it’s in the first half’, and I was like, you know what? We did that. Our defence did that, our pressure did that, so that’s something I’m really proud of,” Apps told RugbyPass

“I already had the belief, but the stronger belief that we could do it.

“We weren’t super happy with our performance against USA yesterday and knew that we had the ability to beat that team, so to be able to bounce back today and be able to do that, I’m just super proud of the group.

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“We still have lots to improve on from the weekend, but just stoked.”

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With the SVNS Series’ Grand Final offering the top eight women’s side a chance to be crowned overall champions at the winner-takes-all event, Canada are now in a strong position to charge forward in the competition.

Canada may have started their tournament with a disappointing 26-19 loss to rivals the USA but they made sure to put that behind them almost immediately in their next outing. Speedster Charity Williams scored inside the first minute against the Kiwis.

Apps scored Canada’s second and then Piper Logan their third, but what was scary was their relentlessness to push for even more. Keyara Wardley crossed for Canada’s fourth try before the Black Ferns Sevens’ had even fired a shot on the scoreboard.

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Down 26-nil, the New Zealanders started to chip away with tries to Stacey Waaka, Jorja Miller and Jazmin Felix-Hotham. But it was too late in the end with the clock favouring the Canadians who hung on for one of the most stunning upsets of the year.

It’s quite an astonishing accomplishment when you consider their win over SVNS heavyweights Australia on home soil in Vancouver earlier this year. Historically, New Zealand and Australia are the two teams to beat on the women’s Series.

“Yeah, it’s massive,” Apps explained.

“To be able to back up what the fifteens team did a few weeks ago is really special and we knew this would be the last chance we’d get to beat New Zealand before the Olympic games so to be able to build that confidence and head into the weekend.

“Still lots of fixes, lots of things to improve on, but I’m so proud of this group. That’s been our goal all season, so I’m just ready to go for the next one.

“We’ve had to rebuild for the last three years since Tokyo, to think about 2024 and 2028 it’s really exciting because we have such a young group, so I’m just really proud that we were able to put in that performance today.”

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

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1 Comment
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Brian 17 days ago

I am pleased about the progress of Canada and their recent success. What concerns me slightly is the the PWR league in England has become the breeding ground for other countries’ players with nearly half of Canada’s team playing there. Long term sustainability of good international teams depends on developing their own leagues and systems. They cannot rely upon England forever.

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