Canada End London Tournament in Disarray Against Ireland but Cup Round Appearance Earns 11th Place in Standings: FULL MATCH VIDEO
Canada's Day 2 at the London 7s was very forgettable, they started the tournament with a big win over Argentina that got them in the Cup round but ended the tournament in disarray against an Ireland team that aren't a core team on the series until next year. Ireland rubbed their noses in it scoring 4 straight second half tries as Canada looked dispirited and beaten, falling off tackles with a playing structure that looked in shambles. They lost perhaps two top players at the tournament, Connor Braid with an arm in a sling and Justin Douglas hobbling off the field with what looks like a hamstring injury.
It will be interesting to see how they regroup under an interim coach in Paris, will they be able to reset or will they continue the form they ended with in London? Who will be called in to bolster the team if indeed they have to replace two top players?
The good news is that Canada jumped up to 11th place with Spain having their worst tournament of the series and finishing last, Canada now sit at 51 points and Spain 48. Scotland in 10th place at 69 points are too far ahead to catch and Wales in 13th at 30 points are too far back, so Paris will be a battle between Canada and Spain for the 11th place. Canada are in a pool with USA, Samoa and Spain at the Paris 7s.
USA relinquished their lead in the series to Fiji so the series title is on the line at the Paris 7s between those two teams with Fiji holding a slim 2 point lead. At the other end of the table for relegation, it's Kenya and Japan battling it out with Kenya holding a 2 point lead.
Canada 14 v USA 29
This was never close as USA toyed with Canada to go up 17-0 at the half and 24-0 in the early second half before Canada scored two well worked consolation tries. USA finished with the simplest of tries, a pick up from the base of the scrum and their 3rd fastest player, Kevon Williams, beat the cover and ran the length of the field. It highlighted the gap between the programs now, they have subs who are faster than our top speed merchants. Overall the team speed for Canada needs to improve, Perry Baker glided by Mike Fuailefau who had outside position with Matt Mullins providing good inside cover, it was the type of try that shouldn't be happening to Canada if they want to be competitive in the series next year and at the Olympics. The first two times Canada had possession they gave the ball away through handling errors, again something that has to be eliminated. Connor Braid wasn't dressed but sat in the background with his right arm in a sling, no word yet on how serious the injury is but it looks like the series will be done for him this year.
Canada 14 v Ireland 33
Coach Henry Paul tried to shake things up by resting Zaruba, Mullins and Fuailefau and giving Coe, Thiel and Kaay the start. Ireland aren't a series team this year but will be next year as they won the qualifier at Hong Kong. It didn't start well for Canada as Ireland scored a try that was too easy, the first receiver from the ruck just threw a dummy and then ran through the gap between Kaay and Thiel and raced in for the try. Infuriating from a Canadian perspective, Henry Paul was brought into the Canada XVs setup as Kingsley Jones defensive specialist, the first thing he can fix now that he's in charge of the 7s is the defence. Canada responded well with two tries by Thiel and Coe to end the half 12-7 in the lead. The second half started poorly however as Canada's attacking structure also fell apart, from a routine ruck it looked like Andrew Coe timed his run too early, Isaac Kaay as acting scrum half threw a wobbly pass that didn't reach Hirayama, Ireland jumped on it and ran it in for a try - to make things worse Justin Douglas pulled up with what looked like a hammy and came off. Things fell apart after that and Ireland scored three tries to run out 33-14 winners.
Canada Reach Cup Round with 2-1 Record: Face USA on Day 2: FULL MATCH VIDEOS
Canada made their second Cup round appearance of the season, squeezing by Argentina in the all important first match and then defeating Japan in their last match. They'll face North American rivals USA in the Cup quarter-final on Sunday. The Americans went 3-0 on Day 1 to finish top of their pool.
Canada 14 v Argentina 12
This was the most important game for Canada as it was assumed they would lose to top four ranked South Africa and defeat relegation bound Japan in the other two matches. Canada did all their scoring in the first half with tries by Mullins and Douglas. It also showed a glimpse of Zaruba coming back into form as he setup the Douglas try and made a try saving tackle on a one on one situation. It was also the first tactical error by new coach Henry Paul as he subbed out Nathan Hirayama too early in the second half, favouring Luke McCloskey to feed the scrum. McCloskey has had issues in pressure situations getting the ball out clean from the scrum and that was the case again as Argentina were gifted a try at a critical time. Fortunately Canada were able to hold onto the 14-12 lead with Isaac Kaay being the last minute hero stealing a ball at the breakdown to secure the win.
Canada 14 v South Africa 45
This wasn't close by the final whistle, Mullins scored a nice try early on to keep Canada even but South Africa's second try showed how fragile Canada's defence was as the first phase runner just pinned his ears back and breezed through a gap between McCloskey and Kaay to score the easiest of tries. Coach Henry Paul perhaps realizing this was likely a loss had rested several top starters, Harry Jones, Adam Zaruba, Connor Braid and Justin Douglas. Canada fought valiantly to keep the half time score even at 14-14. It all quickly unraveled with an unforced error to start the second half as Mike Fuailefau threw a shocker of a pass over Phil Berna's head that was picked up by South Africa for a try. Mistakes and missed tackles crept into the Canada game and South Africa ran in some easy tries to finish 45-14 winners.
Canada 31 v Japan 12
Now that Canada had done the hard work by beating Argentina, they needed a win over Japan and for South Africa to defeat Argentina. A hatrick for Zaruba in the first half all but sealed the deal for Canada and South Africa dispatched Argentina to give Canada their Cup round appearance. Of concern though is that Connor Braid left the field early due to injury and was seen on the bench with his right arm in a sling. He may be gone for this tournament and next, hopefully fit for the Olympic qualifier in July.
Unchanged Roster for London 7s - First Tournament Under Interim Coach
There's no experimentation, no testing out new players as Rugby Canada maintains the course set by coach Damian McGrath before he was replaced by "interim" coach Henry Paul. Canada are obviously focusing on the July Olympic qualifying tournament in the Cayman Islands.
With USA looking a certainty for a top four finish in the series and automatic Olympic qualification, Canada appear they'll be able to navigate the Olympic Qualifier (RAN Tournament) without getting out of cruise control. Last year's RAN (Rugby Americas North) tournament was won by Jamaica over Guyana with Bermuda claiming third over Mexico. The win for Jamaica entitled them to a position at the World Series qualifier in Hong Kong where they went 0-3 losing to Ireland, Russia and Uruguay with a point differential of -68.
Last year Canada made the Cup round at the London 7s, losing to Fiji in the QF. from Rugby Canada
Canada’s 13-man squad has been named for the last two stops on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in London (May 25-26) and Paris (June 1-2).
Canada is looking to rebound off their last two performances in Hong Kong and Singapore to end off the series on a high note ahead of the RAN Sevens this summer, where Canada is hoping to clinch Olympic qualification.
The London Sevens marks the first tournament with the team for interim-head coach Henry Paul. Paul will have the services of leading DHL Impact Player Connor Braid, as well as Adam Zaruba who is returning to the lineup for the first time since the Canada Sevens in March.
Leading the team will be veteran Harry Jones who has brought his expertise and skill back to the pitch after returning from injury earlier this year. Jones has scored 52 points in his four tournaments played so far.
Canada currently sit 12th in the World Rugby Sevens rankings and are hoping to make a big push at the series’ end. With only two stops left, Canada will look to use London and Paris to gain momentum for the RAN Sevens Olympic qualifying tournament in the Cayman Island’s this July.
Canada will be competing against Argentina, South Africa, and Japan in Pool A, with fixtures for Paris announced following the final match in London.
Fans can catch every match live on CBC Sports and follow World Rugby’s match centre and social media channels for live in-game updates.
Phil Berna – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
Connor Braid – James Bay AA (Victoria, BC)
Admir Cejvanovic – Burnaby Lake RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Andrew Coe – Markham Irish (Toronto, ON)
Justin Douglas – Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford, BC)
Mike Fuailefau – Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Nathan Hirayama –Unattached (Richmond, BC)
Harry Jones – Captain, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Isaac Kaay – UVIC Vikes (Kamloops, BC)
Luke McCloskey – Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Matt Mullins – James Bay AA (Belleville, ON)
Jake Thiel – Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford, BC)
Adam Zaruba – Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Day 1- May 25th
Canada vs. Argentina- 5:58pm ET/ 2:58pm PT
Canada vs. South Africa- 9:26pm ET/ 6:26pm PT
Canada vs. Japan- 12:10am ET (May 26)/ 9:10pm PT