Bryan Kelly, Rugby Canada
Canada’s Men’s Rugby Sevens Team rebounded from defeat to South Africa to beat Wales on Day 1 of the HSBC USA Sevens at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Canada will face France on Day 2 in its final pool game a 6:46pm ET/3:46pm PT. In Las Vegas, John Moonlight became the most capped Canadian of all-time on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit with 53 appearances, passing Phil Mack’s previous record.
What John Moonlight said:
“It’s an honour to pull on the jersey every time; I really enjoy playing for Canada.
“The boys fought hard despite being down to six men for four minutes of the game against Wales. We grinded our way back and it paid dividends with the win. Tomorrow we need to come out with the same intensity we did against South Africa in the first half and keep possession and I think we’ll have a great day,” said Moonlight.
What Coach Damian McGrath said:
“We probably played our best rugby in the first game against South Africa and I was really disappointed with the way that turned out, because we played so well. We played poorly in the second game, but we got the result because we showed resilient and with self believe. To play for four minutes of the game with only six players was brilliant.
“Well (John Moonlight) is an icon in the game in Canada and he’s a rallying point for the players on the field, you saw what happened when he came back on for the last 80-metre play. He galvanizes people, leads by example and I wouldn’t play without him!
“(Tomorrow) we need to replicate the quality of rugby we produced in the first game with the resiliency of the second game and I think we’ll come home,” said McGrath.
CANADA 7-26 SOUTH AFRICA
In what was always going to be a tough opening game, Canada took a lead into the break but would eventually fall to the series leaders. John Moonlight gave Canada an early 7-0 lead before the Blitzboks got back into the game through a Ruhan Nel try.
However, it was all South Africa in the second half as two tries from Rosko Specman and a try from Branco du Preez, playing in his 50th series event, gave South Africa the victory.
CANADA 24-21 WALES
Mike Fuailefau’s try on the last play of the game gave Canada a crucial win over Wales. Nathan Hirayama and Justin Douglas had first half tries for Canada, either side of a Owen Jenkins’ try for Wales, for a 12-7 lead at the break.
After a Sam Cross try, Phil Berna restored Canada’s lead to 17-14. A Luke Morgan try looked to have given Wales a win but Canada were saved as Fuailefau crashed over to secure a much needed win.
Canada’s Men’s Sevens Squad for USA Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Luke Bradley, UVic Vikes/Port Alberni Black Sheep (Port Alberni, BC)
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (UVIC Vikes) Toronto, ON
Nathan Hirayama – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – Captain (Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
Caleb Jordan – (Montreal Wanderers) Montreal, QC
Isaac Kaay – (UVic Vikes) Kamloops, BC
Pat Kay – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
Luke McCloskey – (Castaway Wanderers) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Unavailable for Selection:
Matt Mullins – (Queen’s University/Ontario Blues) Belleville, ON
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Day 1 Schedule:
Canada 7-26 South Africa
Canada 24-21 Wales
Day 2 Schedule:
Canada vs. France — 6:46pm ET/3:46pm PT