Charlotte Caslick to bring up half century in Vancouver

We preview the HSBC SVNS Vancouver 2024 as the Australia captain prepares to become the first woman to appear in 50 series tournaments.

History will be made at HSBC SVNS Vancouver 2024 when Australia captain Charlotte Caslick becomes the first woman to appear in 50 series tournaments.

Caslick, who made her debut at the end of the circuit’s inaugural season in Amsterdam in 2013, has gone on to become one of the faces of rugby sevens, missing only six tournaments in 11 years since.

The Olympic champion currently sits fourth on the all-time list of series try scorers and has appeared in all 15 of Australia’s tournament wins, as well their Rio 2016, Commonwealth Games 2022 and Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 successes.

And Caslick’s legendary status will be solidified when she leads Australia out at BC Place for their opening Pool B match, against Japan at 11:52 local time (GMT-8) on Friday.

Australia will hope to crown their captain’s achievement with victory as they bid to get back to winning ways following final heartbreak on home soil in Perth last month. They beat the Sakura Sevens by an aggregate score of 120-0 in Dubai and Cape Town.

Sharni Smale (née Williams) is just one tournament shy of joining her long-time team-mate in the 50 club – as is France’s Chloé Pelle – having been included as part of a squad showing several changes to Perth.

Lily Dick has returned to the squad alongside Sidney Taylor, who could make her HSBC SVNS debut in Vancouver. Australia end day one against Fiji (kick-off 16:46 local time).

Fiji, in need of points to consolidate their place in the top eight, kick-off day one at BC Place against USA (kick-off 11:30 local time), who welcome back co-captain Lauren Doyle following injury.

The Women’s Eagles Sevens head into Vancouver on the back of successive fourth-place finishes and looking up as they prepare for their home tournament in Los Angeles (1-3 March). USA will play Japan at 16:24 on day one before a blockbuster encounter with Australia at 10:37 on Saturday.

USA have won only two of the teams’ previous six series meetings – both by a 10-7 scoreline – but none of their three matches this season, including in the Cape Town and Perth Cup semi-finals.

“We know how small the margins are in sevens, so we feel that focusing on being five per cent better in these areas will enable us to produce podium-level performances,” USA head coach Emilie Bydwell said.

“Vancouver is a critical step for us as we build into LA, which will be an amazing experience and also a critical pressure test. We plan to go one game at a time and focus on being present in the moment.”

Ireland, New Zealand meet again

Ireland will face a huge pool-stage test in Vancouver as they attempt to build on their historic tournament victory in Perth last month.

A first-ever series gold medal, sealed with a dramatic 19-14 final defeat of hosts Australia, has lifted the Irish up to fourth in the women’s standings with three events played.

If they want to back that up with a second successive victory in Vancouver this weekend, though, they will first have to get through Pool A, which contains South Africa, Brazil and defending tournament and series champions New Zealand.

The Black Ferns Sevens have never lost to Ireland at this level, although Lucy Mulhall and Co. can take heart from the fact that a 21-14 defeat at this stage in Perth did not derail their momentous run to the title.

Fans at BC Place will have to wait until 11:21 local time (GMT-8) on Saturday to see if Ireland can break their duck against New Zealand.

Ireland begin their campaign against South Africa at 12:36 local time on Friday before they play Brazil – who they have beaten twice so far in SVNS 2024 but needed to come from behind on both occasions – at 17:30 local time.

Teenager Justine McGregor could make her Black Ferns Sevens debut in Vancouver having been added to the travelling squad earlier this month along with the returning Dhys Faleafaga.

New Zealand get the defence of their Vancouver title underway against Brazil at 12:14 local time on Friday and will next be in action at 17:08 against South Africa, two other teams they have never lost to.

The remaining match in Pool A is a repeat of the HSBC SVNS Perth ninth-place play-off as South Africa look to avenge their 7-0 defeat at the hands of Brazil.

South Africa had won back-to-back matches in Perth prior to that loss, and the rematch will be crucial as the two teams attempt to lift themselves out of the bottom four in the overall standings.

“Having reviewed the match, we really missed a golden opportunity to claim another win in the series,” Springbok Women’s Sevens winger Marlize de Bruin said.

“We will not make the same mistakes again, that is for sure. We have clear goals on this trip and that includes a number of wins on the field.”

De Goede returns, France look to extend run

Pool C could be the most keenly contested in the women’s tournament at BC Place, with only five places in the standings separating France in third from Canada (sixth) and Great Britain (eighth), while Spain aim to kickstart their season.

Great Britain lifted themselves out of the bottom four with a stunning performance in Perth last time out, beating Australia, Canada (twice) and USA en route to a bronze medal.

However, head coach Ciaran Beattie has been forced to shuffle his pack for Vancouver with Lisa Thomson, Grace Crompton, Celia Quansah and Kayleigh Powell coming in, the latter two for the first time this season. Emma Uren, meanwhile, captains the squad in the absence of Abbie Brown.

Beattie will hope his team can pick up where they left off in Perth, when their campaign at BC Place gets underway against Spain (kick-off 13:20 local time) on Friday.

Canada are Great Britain’s next opponents (kick-off 18:14) and they have a great record against the hosts, losing only one of the teams’ nine meetings at this level – the Rio 2016 Olympic Games bronze medal match.

Home hopes will be boosted at BC Place by the return of Sophie de Goede, who made her series debut last year and helped Canada qualify for Paris 2024.

Canada’s 15s captain is joined in the squad by Piper Logan, who has recovered from the injury that kept her out of Perth. Canada begin day one against France (kick-off 12:58), a team they haven’t beaten in 10 attempts since January 2020.

“The Canadian world series stop is one that we always look forward to, and our team is excited to step back onto the field at BC Place and put on a performance to be proud of in front of a great home crowd,” Canada head coach Jack Hanratty said.

France, who have welcomed Séraphine Okemba and Jade Ulutule back into their travelling squad, have reached the semi-finals in five of the last seven series tournaments and head to Vancouver on an 11-match pool-stage winning run.

And they will be confident of continuing that form at BC Place given their excellent records against each of their Pool C opponents. France have won 25 of 26 matches against Spain at this level, while they have four wins in five meetings with Great Britain.

Following their opening match against the hosts, France will play Spain at 17:52 local time on Friday before a potentially pivotal meeting with Great Britain on day two (kick-off 12:05) brings the curtain down on the pool stage.

Take part in all of the on- and off-field action in Vancouver with the HSBC SVNS Predictor Game. Making team and player predictions throughout each weekend, gain points based on their performance and compete against rugby sevens fans from across the world on the global leaderboard.