Canada’s Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens Team to Compete in Otttawa

Submitted by Matt Mariani, redistributed from the Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s men’s and women’s rugby teams will compete in Ottawa when they try to punch their tickets to the Rugby World Championships Sevens in Russia.

Rugby Canada announced on Wednesday that the North American Caribbean Rugby Association 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier Tournament will be held at the Twin Rugby Park in Nepean Aug 25 and 26.

“We are really excited; one, to have the opportunity to host in Canada and to bring an event to Ottawa,” said Rugby Canada C.E.O. Graham Brown. “The Ottawa rugby community over the years has hosted many international events at Twin Elm Rugby Park, a fantastic rugby facility. The Ottawa rugby community always gets behind its players.”

The two-day qualifying tournament will see the top two teams in the men’s division advance to the Rugby World Cup Sevens Finals, which will be held in Moscow in 2013. Only the top women’s team will move on.

Rugby Sevens is a variation of the original sport, with teams made up of seven players instead of the usual 15. A game consists of two seven-minute halves instead of the traditional 45 and only three player scrums are allowed instead of eight. These changes make for a much faster and intense game.

This will not be the first international rugby event in the nation’s capital, however this time around the results will have Olympic implications.

In 2010, the IOC announced that Rugby Sevens would debut as a Summer Olympics sport at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With the addition of Rugby Sevens to the Olympics, tournaments such as the NACRA World Cup Sevens Qualifier are receiving increased international attention and have become a key stepping stone for Canada.

“Canada will definitely have a chance to qualify for the Olympics,” said Gareth Rees, the national men’s program manager. “This is the first step starting out here in Ottawa, then heading out to Moscow.”

Canada will be a heavy favourite heading into the men’s tournament. Canada is not guaranteed anything, however, and will face stiff challenges from the United States and from six-time Caribbean champion Guyana.

Other teams participating include Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

On the women’s side, No. 1-ranked Canada will face competition from the likes of Guyana, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the current leading Caribbean women’s team, Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. women’s team has already qualified for the finals due to its performance at the previous Rugby World Championship Sevens in Dubai.

“Both of our teams are heading into the tournament as favourites, so we should get some good Canadian wins,” Rees said