Veterans Bianca Farella, Phil Berna lead the way for Canada at Toulouse rugby sevens

Veterans Bianca Farella, Phil Berna lead the way for Canada at Toulouse rugby sevens

Veterans Bianca Farella and Phil Berna lead the Canadian rugby sevens teams named for the HSBC Toulouse Sevens later this month in France.

Farella is second all-time in World Rugby Sevens Series try-scoring with 155, second only to New Zealand star Portia Woodman’s 201.

Coach Jack Hanratty has made two changes from the roster that finished fifth at the recent HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens in Langford, B.C. Emma Chown and Ella O’Regan come in for Pamphinette Buisa and Elissa Alarie.

Buisa and Alarie are both members of the 32-woman Canadian 15s roster for the Pacific Four Series that kicks off June 5 in New Zealand. As are Toulouse-bound Renee Gonzalez and Brianna Miller.

O’Regan will be making her World Series debut at the May 20-22 event in France.

Krissy Scurfield, a late addition to the roster for the Langford event, retains her spot after being named to the Langford tournament Dream Team

The Toulouse event is the last of six women’s stops on the HSBC Sevens Series this season. The Canadian women currently stand seventh in the standings.

“We’re all looking forward to heading to Toulouse to finish the HSBC Sevens Series on a high as we look to continue our momentum following a positive weekend at the Langford Sevens,” Hanratty said in a statement. “As we continue to build out our depth chart, it’s a really positive sign that we are still handing debuts to athletes at this stage of the season and we’re really pleased to bring Ella (O’Regan) into the mix.”

On the men’s side, Brennig Prevost, David Richard and Alex Russell return after picking up minor injuries at the HSBC Canada Sevens last month in Vancouver, where the Canadians finished 10th.

Berna and Jake Thiel are both veterans of the Tokyo Olympics, where the Canadian men finished eighth.

The Canadian men stand 12th overall after sixth events, with Toulouse and two more events remaining.

The Toulouse trip marks the first for Sean White as assistant coach. And he may see one of his playing records broken if Thiel features in all six of Canada’s matches in France, which would move Thiel past White in Canada’s all-time HSBC Sevens Series appearance list, pulling level with Christoph Strubin on 98.

“Heading to Toulouse, we are pleased to welcome the likes of Brennig, David and Alex back into the roster,” said head coach Henry Paul. “As always, we’re looking forward to competing against the world’s best teams and to the opportunity to improve our place in the standings with three HSBC Sevens Series events remaining for our team this season.”

Canada Men

D’Shawn Bowen, Toronto, Pacific Pride; Jake Thiel, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Nick Allen, North Vancouver, UBC; Phil Berna, Vancouver, Vancouver Rowing Club; Alex Russell, Chichester, England, McGill University; Thomas Isherwood, Okotoks, Alta., Foothills Lions RFC; Brock Webster, Uxbridge, Ont., Oshawa Vikings RFC; Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars; Brennig Prevost, Victoria, University of Victoria; Anton Ngongo, Victoria, Castaway Wanderers; Elias Ergas, Vancouver, UBC; David Richard, Milton, Ont., Mississauga Blues RFC; Matthew Oworu, Calgary, Pacific Pride.

Unavailable for selection: Noah Bain, Theo Sauder, Josiah Morra, Sion Griffiths.

Canada Women

Olivia De Couvreur, Ottawa, Ottawa Irish; Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., Lindsay RFC; Renee Gonzalez, Toronto University of Victoria; Breanne Nicholas, Blenheim, Ont., London St. George’s; Nakisa Levale, Abbotsford, B.C., Abbotsford RFC; Emma Chown, Barrie, Ont., Aurora Barbarians; Florence Symonds, Hong Kong, UBC; Bianca Farella, Montreal, Town of Mount Royal RFC; Asia Hogan Rochester, Toronto, Toronto Nomads; Fancy Bermudez, Edmonton, Westshore RFC; Ella O’Regan, Victoria, Maple Leaf Academy; Keyara Wardley, Vulcan, Alta., Okotoks Lions; Krissy Scurfield, Canmore, Alta., University of Victoria.

Unavailable for selection: Charity Williams, Julia Greenshields, Chloe Daniels.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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