Japan 7s Review: Australia Prevail - Canada Absent
by BCRN 7s correspondent
posted March 30 2012
Day 1 in Japan
After a tumultuous three day tournament for Canada in Hong Kong – this past weekend the Japan Sevens slipped bye on this side of the Pacific without too much notice.
Nevertheless - alarm bells should have gone off and yellow or red cards been shown when it was revealed who the invited teams were to the far-east tournament.
Flying into Tokyo last week to join the host union were teams Russia, Portugal and Hong Kong – and no Canadian Team despite our Shield victory and core status accomplishment.
And at the end of Day 1 at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground only Portugal could have justified their invitation and inclusion into this iRB Sevens event – they ran Manu Samoa to the edge with a 21-20 loss; they undid Scotland 15-7 and were five points shy of South Africa 12-7.
The other teams were less impressive – Russia scored 7 points against Wales; nothing against Argentina and finished the day in surprising fashion taking out Kenya 26-17.
Hong Kong scored a total of 33 points on Day 1; Japan 17 points and the Americans despite their new coach and core status bottomed out with only 26 points when the sun set over Mt. Fujiyama.
Meanwhile on this side of the Pacific our sevens players returned to their usual routines and a much deserved rest. For the men - the season is over unlike the women’s team who will head to London in early May for another encounter with the English most likely.
The iRB Standings reveal that Canada has been successful in every tournament this year – in fact our lowest tournament score was in Hong Kong where we were relegated to only compete in the Shield competition.
It is true that the new iRB Sevens scoring system engages teams with more available points in each tournament now but that said – our tournament scores reveal a team that has improved this season despite our limited entry.
And more importantly we rode out the imposed ‘core-storm’ in Hong Kong.
Returning players from Hong Kong reported that they had never felt such pressure – ever - in any event to that point in their careers. These logbook entries of performing under pressure-cooker conditions should make each of our players stronger and more resilient over the long haul.
The shame of it all is that now we must sit back and watch three core teams overtake us in the standings as the tournaments move to a conclusion at London in May.
Kenya is one point clear of us, we are tied with Scotland and the Americans are three points back of us – all this will change after Day 2 in Tokyo, Japan. If there was ever a time for Canada to make an impact – maybe it was this year on the circuit? We will never know.
In the meantime as Day 1 ends in Tokyo – we are 11th overall and left wondering what could have transpired if we had been offered the occasion and the opportunity to compete in Japan.
Day 2 in Japan
Things changed dramatically on Day 2 at the Japan Sevens, immediately noticeable - as unlikely Australia walked away with the Cup hardware, Fiji the Plate, France the Bowl and Scotland the Shield - was that Canada dropped to 13th in the overall iRB Standings as suspected.
Kenya, Scotland and the Americans all moved slightly ahead of us - and as Glasgow and London approach in May this gap will widen yet again – it all seems so disappointing for Canada after such a profitable year.
Upon review - our neighbours to the south have performed consistently (poorly) across the board with only two tournaments to go. They slipped up in New Zealand earning only a single point but otherwise they have been permanent residents in the Bowl competition!
Kenya and Scotland hold down 11th place together and neither team has set the circuit on fire this season.
Kenya won the Plate in Las Vegas and had two accomplishments in the Bowl competition but apart from that they have offered nothing in terms of real success while lounging around in the Shield basement.
For Kenya it has to be incredibly disappointing as they once held the circuit fans in their grasp and were considered the darlings of the media circus which follows the Series.
Scotland is always full of grit and determination but they too have been bottom-feeders in the Bowl competition and are consistently outpaced by other teams.
While it all seems a bit of a hash on this side of the Pacific – at least we now have time to consider our approach for next season – hopefully we will get our structures right before the season kicks off on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Already some players are expressing concern for next year and it seems vital
that an open door of consultation be required before decisions are made.
In the meantime - well done to the men’s team - and stay tuned for London in May when our women’s team continue to lead the planet in gold medal accomplishments!