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Canadian teams learn paths for September’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa

Canada’s men will play Zimbabwe while the Canadian women face China in their opening matches at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in South Africa.

The calendar was released Thursday, marking the 50-day lead-up to the Sept. 9-11 tournament in Cape Town.

Host South Africa is the top seed in the 24-team men’s competition, with Australia second and Olympic champion Fiji third. South Africa, which leads the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series with one event remaining, won the first four stops this season while extending a 36-match winning streak that saw the BlitzBoks win six consecutive events across 2021-2022.

Tenth-seeded Canada opens play versus No. 23 Zimbabwe in the qualification round involving teams seeded from nine to 24. The winners of the qualification round progress to the round of 16 where they will take on the top eight seeds, while the losers drop down into the consolation Bowl competition that will decide positions 17 to 24.

A triumph over Zimbabwe and the Canadian men advance to face No. 7 France. The winner of that match could see Australia in the quarterfinals.

The Canadian men finished 12th at the last Rugby World Cup Sevens in 2018 in San Francisco.

Their best result was a fifth in 2001.

The women’s competition kicks off with round-of-16 knockout matches. The fifth-seeded Canadians open against No. 12 China with the winner moving on to face either the fourth-ranked U.S. or No. 13 Poland.

Canada, runner-up to New Zealand at the 2013 event in Moscow, finished seventh four years ago.

Top-seeded Australia takes on debutant Madagascar, Olympic champion New Zealand faces Colombia, and host South Africa meets Olympic silver medalist France.

South Africa marks the eighth edition of the men’s World Cup Sevens and the fourth for the women.

The New Zealand men have won the title three times and are the two-time defending champion. Fiji has won twice with England and Wales hoisting the trophy once apiece.

Australia won the inaugural women’s title in 2009 with New Zealand taking the last two tournaments.

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