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Sports Canada advances to Cup quarterfinals with 31-12 win over Japan at rugby sevens series

Canada's Adam Zaruba (L) runs in a try during the rugby union sevens pool match between Canada and Japan on the first day of the London 2019 World Rugby Sevens Series event at Twickenham Stadium in west London on May 25, 2019.

BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Canada won two of three matches Saturday to advance to the Cup quarterfinals at the HSBC London Sevens.

The Canadian men, who came into the tournament 12th overall in the World Rugby Sevens Series overall standings, will play the top-ranked Americans on Sunday.

Canada opened with a 14-12 win over No. 8 Argentina, losing 45-14 to No. 4 South Africa before finishing off the day at Twickenham by downing No. 15 Japan 31-12.

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The London tournament, the penultimate stop on the 10-event circuit, marks just the second time this season that Canada has made the Cup quarterfinals.

Coach Damian McGrath was fired earlier this month after Canada finished 11th last time out in Singapore. Henry Paul, an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s 15s team and former England sevens player, is serving as interim coach.

Prior to Singapore, Canada finished 15th in Hong Kong, 10th in Vancouver, 13th in Las Vegas, tied for 11th in Dubai, Cape Town and Sydney and tied for seventh in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Matt Mullins and Luke McCloskey scored tries in a losing cause against South Africa, which broke open the match with four unanswered tries in the second half.

The loss dropped Canada’s record against the Blitzboks to 5-47-0.

Mullins and Justin Douglas scored tries against Argentina. Adam Zaruba made a try-saving tackle and Isaac Kaay won a penalty at the breakdown as Argentina laid siege on the Canadian goal-line in the final minutes.

Zaruba scored three tries in the first seven minutes as Canada dominated Japan. Douglas, with career try No. 136, and Jake Thiel also added tries.

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South Africa, the U.S. and Fiji all went 3-0-0 on Day 1. Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand and Ireland joined them in the Cup quarter-final with two wins apiece.

The U.S. secured Olympic qualification by making the quarterfinals since it assured them of a top-four finish on the season.

Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa and England are battling for the three remaining automatic Olympic berths. Other countries will have to go through regional qualifiers or a repechage tournament to make the 2020 Tokyo field.

In other quarterfinal play Sunday, South Africa will face Australia, New Zealand takes on France and Fiji plays Ireland.

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