LANGFORD, B.C. — Canada's bid to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on hold after a fifth-place finish at the HSBC Canada Sevens Series at Westhills Stadium.
With the top four teams in the season standings securing automatic Olympic qualification, Canada could have punched its ticket to Tokyo this weekend given Langford is the penultimate stop on the six-event World Rugby Women's Series.
Essentially Canada needed to maintain or increase its points lead over fifth-place France, but failed to do so after Sunday's 12-7 loss against the United States dropped them out of contention.
The Canadian women rebounded from a tough quarterfinal loss to the Americans with a 31-0 win against Spain and a 31-7 victory over England to take fifth.
New Zealand defeated Australia 21-17 to win the World Rugby Women's Sevens event. The U.S. placed third with a 26-5 win over fourth-place France.
"I have 100 per cent confidence we're going to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020," said Toronto's Charity Williams, who scored two tries against England.
Williams electrified the crowd earlier Sunday when she out ran the entire Spanish team during an end-to-end try.
"It came from wanting to show the fans and the everybody that sometimes we make mistakes but we're a better team than that."
Montreal's Bianca Farella, who scored to two tries for Canada against England, said the Canadian women are unstoppable when they put in efforts like Sunday afternoon against England.
"It really felt like we were at practice today, just tearing it up," she said. "We showcased in that fifth-place final we are one of the top teams in the world when we're on and when we're doing things the way we plan."
Julia Greenshields of Sarnia, Ont., also scored a try for Canada against England.
Coach John Tait said the team is in good shape heading into the Olympic qualifying event in France.
"Overall we played great defence all tournament," he said. "We just had some unforced errors and good teams like the U.S. and Australia punish you and they got us."
Tait said his players "put in two clinical performances to finish the tournament."
The Canadians came into this weekend's action as the hottest team in the World Rugby Women's Sevens Series after winning in Japan last month.
Canada posted wins over Brazil and Ireland on Saturday, but lost to Australia, the reigning Olympic champion.
"This was huge," Keyara Wardley of Okotoks, Alta., said Sunday after defeating Spain. "Coming off of the last game (against the U.S.), we wanted to bounce back."
Captain Ghislaine Landry of Toronto scored two tries, while Williams, Farella and Wardley added singles against Spain.
The quarterfinal Sunday against the Americans was a defensive struggle that saw Williams score Canada's only try.
"Our team put a really good defensive effort out, but the U.S. capitalized on a few more mistakes and that's just the way it goes," said Williams. "I'm confident we'll qualify for Tokyo."