Despite winning two out of three pool games, Canada’s Men’s Rugby Sevens Team narrowly fell short of Cup qualification on day one at the hugely exciting inaugural HSBC Canada Sevens in front of over 30,000 fans at BC Place on Saturday.
After losing to Wales in their opening match of the tournament, Canada provided the shock of the day as they edged Australia and Russia, but unfortunately missed the cut on points difference.Their Bowl quarter-final, against Brazil, starts at 1:46pm ET/10:46am PT, with another big crowd expected at the venue.
Reaction from Head Coach Liam Middleton…
“Two wins should be enough to take you through. It’s difficult when you’re chasing a score (against Russia) but I thought the guys stuck to the plan. You can see they have got unbelievable heart and they represent their country with pride. Everything hinged on that first game when we played outstandingly well but this is a game of tiny margins and huge heartache. We have got to recover, wake up tomorrow morning and come out and try and win three games again. The players have done themselves proud today. Two wins and one loss you can’t criticize that. We have played some really good sevens. Now we go for a win tomorrow morning, a win after that and one after that in the Bowl competition,” said Middleton.
Canada 19-26 Wales
It was last-second heartbreak for Canada in their tournament opener on Saturday as a late try saw them fall to Wales. Playing in front of a passionate home crowd at BC Place, the squad rose to the big occasion and started the contest in excellent form, with Pat Kay making history by becoming the first Canadian to score a try at the Vancouver showpiece.
After Nathan Hirayama had added a cool conversion from wide out, it didn’t take long for the Canadians to double their advantage as again Kay crossed the line on four minutes. At 14-0 the Canadians were looking solid and comfortable. Wales did manage to recover and cut the lead down to seven points when Jordan Williams scored for the first of his two tries before the break. Fortunately for Canada, a missed conversion meant they would still possess a slender advantage.
Canada began the second-half as they had the first with Harry Jones showing power and pace to make it 19-12 early on. But the Welsh could not be shaken off and despite courageous defence from John Moonlight, they went over twice more through Luke Treharne and Chris Knight, meaning it would be a disappointing defeat for Canada in their tournament bow.
Canada 14-12 Australia
Canada picked up their first victory of their inaugural home tournament in game two after they shocked Australia late on. Trailing 12-7 and with time up on the clock, Adam Zaruba finished off a patient spell of possession before Hirayama coolly landed the all-important extras, which sparked mass celebrations in the crowd. It was a landmark moment for Canada.
Hirayama was the man to get things moving in the match when he slipped a tackle to make it 7-0 after three minutes. But the Australians responded before the break through Allan Fa’alava’au, which meant it was a tied ball-game at the whistle. Australia then made it 12-7 on eleven minutes when Tom Kingston scored. However Canada refused to go away and were eventually rewarded with sustained pressure resulting in Zaruba finding the space wide out before Hirayama did the rest.
Canada 29-12 Russia
Canada fell short of the required 30 or more point win over Russia that would have secured their passage into the Cup on Sunday, as they claimed a 29-12 victory that saw the team fight to the bitter end in front of their passionate supporters. After Australia had comfortably beaten Wales in the lead-up to this match, Canada knew the size of their task in the final game of the day, a Saturday that had seen them give their fans plenty to cheer after that victory over the outfit in gold.
They started strongly when Sean White crossed for a converted score but when Admir Cejvanovic was carded – Russia also had a player given two minutes in the bin soon after – a try from Vladimir Ostroushko halted Canada’s progress. Jones and Moonlight did hand Canada hope of a substantial victory when they scored before the break to make it 19-5, but unfortunately they could not shake the Russians off as their opponent would keep coming at them in the second-half.
After Jones had made it 24-5, Russia hit back through Ivan Korotkov to cut the margin down to 12 points on 12 minutes. Despite Lucas Hammond responding in the closing stages, it was all too little too late as Canada’s dreams of Cup action on home soil were ended in painful fashion, with a Bowl quarter-final against Brazil now awaiting them on Sunday morning.
Canada’s Roster for the HSBC Canada Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
Sean Duke – (Unattached) Vancouver, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (Toronto Nomads/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) West Vancouver, BC
Pat Kay – (Unattached) Duncan, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – Captain (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Sean White – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Unavailable due to injury:
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Mike Scholz – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Senior Men’s Team Staff:
Liam Middleton – Head Coach
Lee Douglas – Assistant Coach
Brian Hunter – Manager
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst
Canada’s HSBC Canada Sevens Vancouver Day 1 Schedule:
Canada 19-26 Wales
Canada 14-12 Australia
Canada 29-12 Russia
Canada’s HSBC Canada Sevens Vancouver Day 2 Schedule:
Canada vs. Brazil – 1:46pm ET/10:46am PT
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.
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 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Ireland and 2019 Men’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.