Canada Sevens 2017 Review

March 13 2017

Mike Fuailefau - Canada Sevens
© Derek Stevens

BCRN 7s Correspondent Reviews the Vancouver Tournament

by BCRN 7s correspondent
posted March 13 2017

Even before our team left Las Vegas in the Nevada desert and flew north into YVR the build up for our second World HSBC Sevens tournament was intense, emotional and exciting.

Those in charge of the preparation and presentation were not distracted for a second by the predictable responses circulating from our XV’s loss to Brazil two Fridays ago in San Paulo – and a good thing too - if we had got this tournament wrong the bills would be horrendous and the disappointment profoundly negative.

On the contrary – things couldn’t have gone better!

The lead up press going into the tournament was sound and media outlets competed furiously for player ‘time’ and any detail that would give them a front foot on their stories.

There was no question that heading home to this type of response would have been a huge boost to our players going into the intense second weekend of sevens rugby.

This short ‘bump’ homeward from Vegas is the second shortest plane ride of the season for our team – Paris to London being the shortest – and after a three day tournament and a previous week of training it’s not much fun being strapped into a 2 by 2 padded seat elbow to elbow for more than a couple of hours. Our guys would have managed this trip northward well.

Day 1
Pool D: Canada, Russia, Scotland, New Zealand

It all went very right for Canada in their first game at BC Place Stadium and despite Scotland getting on the score sheet our intensity in front of a packed house was simply too much for them. It was a thunderous reception even before the players took the field and it did not let up until long after they had gone back into the exit tunnel. This year’s crowd seemed a bit more knowledgeable and our team got the reception they deserved on home turf every time we progressed up field with ball-in-hand. If you couldn’t get excited on Saturday then it would probably be best to see your doctor immediately! And what was most impressive in this game was that we played the game on our own terms and at our own speed – Scotland could not match us. Canada 28 v Scotland 10

We let Russia get an early jump on us before we settled down and got our game going. Some good substitutions in the second half got our blood boiling and Kaay in particular made his presence felt. Plus once again we were playing better and faster than Russia could manage and they simply opened up under the intense pressure that Canada applied. And as the game progressed the crowd sensed that if we sealed the victory then we would secure a place in the Cup Quarter Finals – and did - and some new history was made in this our second HSBC Sevens Tournament in Vancouver. Well done Canada men! Canada 26 v Russia 5

The final score reflected a very close game had been played – and it was a massive effort by Canada who deserved a favourable outcome in this last game of Day 1. Without a struggling John Moonlight and Justin Douglas - Canada played a masterful game which almost allowed us to win this pool. Tactics were right and every player was totally committed to a plan which had the Kiwis in somewhat of a panic. But sevens is a game where you must make fewer mistakes than your opponents if you hope to come out on the right side of the scoreboard. Did we miss some tackles – yeah we did but all teams do that over a two week period of intense sevens drama on the field. Could we point some fingers at those situations – probably we could but to what purpose? Players know when they have missed a tackle or an assignment – and dwelling on it outside the locker room serves little purpose. In the end we played well enough to win but we didn’t win and enough said about that. Outcome – Day 2 and we are in the Cup Quarters!
Canada 14 v New Zealand 15

Day 2
Despite the tournament outcome in the winner’s circle South Africa are the form team this season on the circuit. They have the total package – plus they play the short game the way it should be played – at top speed with skill and purpose. This game was always going to be a challenge and a final score reflected that challenge. Nevertheless – we started well and were strong in every respect despite John Moonlight who was struggling and clearly not even close to his best form after his injury on Day 1. South Africa strike like lightning and before you know it they are gone and you find yourself looking in the rear view mirror. Their work at the tackle in particular is masterful and committed as they worked under us to free up ball and move it away at top speed. Regardless - we played them well but today was not our day to beat them – not yet at least! Canada 7 v South Africa 36

Anyone who ever thought this game was not going to be a street fight needs to watch more video! The Argies are the pit bulls of the circuit with a special style of their own which is fast, skillful and most of all relentless. They swarm at every opponent like a hive of angry wasp’s intent on whole scale damage. And they came at Canada right away with that clearly on their collective minds! But Canada already had their own plan despite the discouraging outcome against South Africa earlier that day. We struck back with equal commitment and intensity and the game was a full on toe-to-toe affair. Any slight error would prove costly – and in the end we slipped ever so slightly and Argentina crept away with the win.
Canada 5 v Argentina 12

Summary: There was no denying it was a spectacular weekend for Sevens rugby in Canada – no question at all. Vancouver and Canadians have a special talent for making people welcome to British Columbia’s largest city. And we did it again this past weekend.

The event staff has to be pleased with how things went and they need to be congratulated.

If there were issues behind the scenes the fans most likely never saw us falter and that’s how it should be. Fix the problem for next year and move on.

Issues from the first year of the tournament had clearly been adjusted and problems had been solved so good-on the organizers to fix that up.

Well done Vancouver and very well done to our Sevens Team!

Hong Kong is next – stay tuned.

Canada Team – Vancouver
Phil Berna UBC Thunderbirds Vancouver, BC
Luke Bradley University of Victoria Port Alberni, BC
Justin Douglas Abbotsford RFC Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau Castaway Wanderers Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond University of Victoria Toronto Ontario
Nathan Hirayama University of Victoria Richmond, BC
Harry Jones Capilano RFC North Vancouver, BC
Isaac Kaay  University of Victoria Kamloops, BC
Pat Kay University of Victoria Cobble Hill, BC
Luke McCloskey Castaway Wanderers Victoria, BC
John Moonlight James Bay AA Pickering, ON
Matt Mullins Queen’s University Belleville, ON
Adam Zaruba Capilano RFC Vancouver, BC

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