Canada dropped into the Challenge Trophy draw at the Cape Town Sevens after a draw and two defeats on Day 1. Canada collected a 19-19 draw with New Zealand but losses to England and Argentina left Canada in fourth place in Pool C.
Captain John Moonlight became just the second ever Canadian to play in 50 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments, joining Phil Mack in that category. Canada will play France in their Challenge Trophy quarterfinal at 4:42am ET/1:42am PT.
What Coach Damian McGrath had to say…
“Certainly hard to sum up such a day. I was really pleased with lots of things in our first game with England despite the loss. They are one of the leading teams and aspects of our game were very positive. Against NZ we showed great resolve to come back into the game after suffering the adversity of losing Nate Hirayama for the tournament. We refused to give in and more than deserved our draw.
“The loss of our playmaker saw the introduction of 18 year old Josiah Morra. Unfortunately we didn’t touch the ball until we were 21-0 down against Argentina. In that time we suffered the blows of losing Phil Berna (dislocated and fractured elbow) and Liam Underwood (damaged shoulder) inside a minute. It was too much for us to deal with and we posted our worst result of my very brief tenure.
“The inconsistencies that have beset the team over recent times are there for all to see. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I know it will take time to build a team I think can challenge on the World Series. I am using these first couple of months to assess players and the programme. There is the nucleus of a good team we need the depth to support it.
“Day two is going to be tough. We have lost three of our very best players. Our approach will not change and it offers an opportunity to the new boys to show me what they can do! Ten men against full squads is a big ask after a gruelling first day in very hot conditions.”
CANADA 10-33 ENGLAND
Canada made a bit of series history by scoring its 2000th try but fell at the hands of England in its tournament opener. First half tries from captain Tom Mitchell and Ruaridh McConnochie put England up 14-0 before Canada got a lifeline from Nathan Hirayama who took an Adam Zaruba offload before pacing away down the sideline for a Canadian try right before the half time interval.
However, England stormed out of the gates in the second half as tries from Alex Davis, Dan Norton and Tom Bowen put England up 33-5. Pat Kay grabbed a consolation try for Canada after time had expired, and a piece of the history books, as he notched Canada’s 2000th series try in a losing 33-10 effort.
CANADA 19-19 NEW ZEALAND
A fantastic comeback saw Canada and New Zealand tie for the first in series history in the teams’ second pool game of the tournament. The Kiwis jumped out to a 14-0 lead thanks to tries from Tim Mikkelson and Sherwin Stowers but the game turned on its head when Dylan Collier was shown a yellow card a minute from half time for a dangerous high tackle on Nathan Hirayama.
Canada responded immediately as Pat Kay touched down, and converted himself, to cut the deficit to 14-7 at the break. A try from captain John Moonlight, after a lovely offload from Mike Fuailefau, cut the lead further to 14-12 before Sione Molia’s try pushed New Zealand’s lead to 19-12. However, Canada fought back once more as Justin Douglas paced away to score his first try of the tournament before Kay held his nerve to add the conversion for the tie.
CANADA 14-43 ARGENTINA
Argentina ran in seven tries in a convincing win over Canada in their final pool game.First half tries from Bautista Delguy (3), German Schultz and Nicolas Menendez gave Argentina a 33-0 lead.
Justin Douglas got Canada on the board early in the second half before Domingo Miotti scored Argentina’s sixth try. Pat Kay got a second Canadian try as he snuck down the short side but Franco Sabato’s late try ensured a 43-14 win for Argentina.
Canada’s Roster for the Cape Town Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Nathan Hirayama – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Caleb Jordan – (Montreal Wanderers) Montreal, QC
Pat Kay – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
Karsten Leitner – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Luke McCloskey – (Castaway Wanderers) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Josiah Morra – Toronto Saracens (Toronto, ON)
Matt Mullins – (Queen’s University/Ontario Blues) Belleville, ON
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Head Coach – Damian McGrath
Assistant Coach – Lee Douglas
Physiotherapist – Danielle Mah
Analyst – Calum Ramsay
Manager – Brian Hunter
Canada’s Day 1 Schedule:
Canada 10-33 England
Canada 19-19 New Zealand
Canada 14-43 Argentina
Canada’s Day 2 Schedule:
Canada vs. France at 4:42am ET/1:42am PT – Challenge Cup Trophy QF
About Rugby Canada
Rugby Canada is the national governing body of the sport of rugby union in Canada. Rugby Football has a long history in Canada dating back to its initial appearance in the 1860s. Since 1974, Rugby Canada has been a permanent fixture on the global rugby scene, including trips to each of the eight Men’s Rugby World Cups and seven Women’s Rugby World Cups. As a regular on the Men’s and Women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Canada continues to climb the world rankings and challenge the dominant rugby nations in both versions of the game. Canada’s Women’s Rugby Sevens Team also made history in 2016, capturing the first-ever Bronze Medal at the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
To support the growth of rugby at the grass-roots level and to ensure there are elite programs for prospering young rugby players to become involved with, Rugby Canada has put an emphasis on developing its junior programs. Our goal is to develop and train competitive teams for the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland, the 2018 Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, the 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan and 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.