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The ‘amazing, beautiful’ crowd reaction to Canada’s epic upset in Vancouver

By Finn Morton
Canada celebrate after winning the women's third-place playoff at SVNS Vancouver. Picture: World Rugby.

When the full-time whistle sounded in the women’s third-place playoff at SVNS Vancouver, the Canadians on the field and those in the stands celebrated as if they were champions.

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In one of the upsets of the season so far, Canada defeated SVNS Series front-runners Australia to claim a “beautiful” bronze medal in front of their passionate home fans.

As the players swarmed one another on the field, the crowd let out a goosebump-worthy cheer that echoed throughout the venue at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium.

It was an incredible moment that was worthy of a final. Canada’s 19-14 win over Australia stole the show at SVNS Vancouver as everyone made sure to soak up the momentous achievement.

“That was the most amazing, beautiful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Canada’s Charity Williams told RugbyPass. “I kind of feel like I blacked out a little bit but I knew that everyone was in an uproar.

“This is our family, this is our friends in the stands. Everyone in there is there is there for us.

“I just knew if we brought it home, we would feel it.

“This Series stop is probably one of the best in the world. Our Canadian fans ride so deep and they love rugby, but they especially love women’s rugby in Canada.

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“We see some of these people all the time at home, we train here, so we’re all just so connected.

“There’s honestly no place like rugby in Canada, especially at BC Place.”

Canada couldn’t have started the third-place playoff any better, either. Krissy Scurfield, who was named in the SVNS Series’ Dream Team after the event, got things underway in minute one.

Scurfield put a powerful right-hand fend on Australia’s Maddison Levi before running another 70 metres or so to open the scoring.

Madison Ashby hit back for the Aussies a couple of minutes later, and while it was tense at the break with the scores locked at seven-all, it was Canada’s night in the end.

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Chloe Daniels and Charity Williams both crossed for five-pointers, and while Australia made it a one-score game with a Levi try in the 13th minute, Canada did enough to hang on.

“We have a bit of a new franchise in the last four or so years and we haven’t done that with this team,” Williams explained when asked about the significance of beating Australia.

“This is one of the biggest accomplishments since we’ve been together.

“I was just telling the girls, I’ve been on this team for a very long time and this is the best I’ve ever felt winning – not even gold, we won bronze but I feel like we won golf.

“It’s the most amazing experience. I’m just so proud to be a part of this team and I just know it only goes up from here, we just set a standard.”

If there was one more during the match itself which summed up the occasion best it was Williams’ try in the 11th minute.

Williams picked the ball up at a ruck and noticed there were open pastures ahead of her. The speedster ran in between Dominique du Toit and Madison Ashby to help give Canada a 12-point lead.

But the effort, it must be said, was deserving of style points as the Canadian opted to do a forward-roll somersault while placing the ball down.

“I don’t even know where that came from honestly,” she said, laughing.

“I just needed to touch the ball down in the most ridiculous way possible because it just felt like that was the pinnacle moment that shifted the game for us.”

The SVNS Series heads to Los Angeles next from March 1 to 3 and tickets can be bought HERE.

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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