Canada's women's rugby sevens team got off to a good start with a 14-12 victory over the host Italian team in Naples on Friday at the 2019 FISU Summer Universiade.
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The Canadian squad started the match in a hurry, scoring two converted tries in the first five minutes of play to take a 14-0 lead at the half. Raised by an enthusiastic crowd, the Italians managed to come back in the second half, but finally ran out of time, allowing Canada to claim their first win in Group A.
“Italy was a pretty organized squad, so we knew that we wanted to get up early”, said Canada’s head coach Colette McAuley. “We made a few decisions that we can talk about as a team to make us more efficient, control the game a little bit more and manage our possession better.
“This team has been working really hard for the past two days, but this was the first time that they collectively played together. I think we did a great job supporting each other.”
“It was great overall,” said Delaney Aikens, who scored Canada’s first try within the first minute of play. “I think we did quite well against Italy. We’re not used to the heat but I think that we controlled everything that we could and gave it our all and that’s why we won the game.
Of the raucous Italian fans, Aikens added she took their enthusiasm as a positive thing.
“The crowd was a bit intimidating. For me, I take that as a little boost of energy: I want to go out there and prove them wrong.”
The women will continue their round-robin tournament on Saturday against Japan (1-0) at 4:30 a.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. PDT (10:30 a.m. local time) and France (0-1) at 11:50 a.m. EDT / 8:50 a.m. PDT (5:50 p.m. local time).
Men’s team falls twice
On the men's side, Canada had a tough start with a pair of losses - 35-5 against France and 44-5 against Japan in Group B action.
“With the experience I’ve had, I’m just realistic on the results,” said Canada’s bench boss Robin MacDowell. “They are young men. For nine of them, it’s the first time representing Canada and we only had two training sessions so collectively, we’ve had about three hours together on the field.
“The number one thing we want to do is have a good time and show that Canadian character. Those boys went out there and they give it everything they had. They are growing, they are learning, and that’s what it’s all about, taking that forward for their future international careers.”
The Canadians will conclude the preliminary round on Saturday at 5:00 a.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. PDT (11:00 a.m. local time) against Italy (1-1).