Tokyo 7s in Review

A Review of the Tokyo 7s: Player Gains Encouraging; Ruiz Gets #RedNation Wooden Spoon; Next Hong Kong

by BCRN 7s correspondent
posted March 24 2014

Day 1 in Japan – we had indicated in our brief selection preview of this tournament that despite the opportunities available in this Pool Canada would have be cognisant of what had occurred a year ago at the very same stadium.

Clearly with that in mind Canada started the 6th iRB Sevens tournament of the year in Japan with a dramatic win over Portugal – there was determination, skill and some impressive attention to detail as we ran in 40 points. And at the end of the day it was this win that would see us through to another Cup round on Day2. Great job guys!

Canada 40 v Portugal 5

The Wales game was equally impressive in many respects spoiled only by a referee who seemed determined to send us packing into the Bowl competition on Day 2.It was like re-visiting a game from the early years in 2000-2007 when we were treated poorly by the officials on a regular basis. Either way we had Wales in our grasp – we knew it and they knew it too – and when the dust settled at the end of the day Canada moved on and Wales were shipped off to the Bowl competition without ceremony.

Canada 17 v Wales 17

The determination showed in the final game of the first day was outstanding in every regard and we found ourselves ahead at half-time. Our forwards were immense in the first half lead by the dynamic play of forward John Moonlight who scored two of his three tries before the end of the first period. But by far the most impressive aspect of this final pool game on Day 1 was the attitude of the team as they went after New Zealand for a win – nothing else would be acceptable and that determination was clear and very impressive. New Zealand coach “Sir Gordie” will know now with certainty that we are closer than ever before at knocking off the last team on our bucket list – hopefully it will come before the end of this season.

Canada 17 v New Zealand 22

Canada faced off against England in the Cup Quarter Finals and ran them to the wire despite Mr. Ruiz interference late in the first half when he binned Harry Jones unkindly. And while we managed to survive the sin-bin it was clear that the North Vancouver player was away from the field where his presence has played such an important part in our success this entire season. But it was only the first of several decisions by Mr. Ruiz that kept Canada from moving forward into the Cup Semi-Final – his absolute neglect of John Moonlight’s try was without question one of the worst decisions of the season for our team and it would seem incumbent for the iRB brass to react accordingly – from this seat he should probably go back to adjudicating mini rugby in a Paris suburb – and while this is probably unkind the man should realize that tapes of his neglect are now flashing world-wide across the web and do have dire consequences. England dodged a massive bullet on this one and Canada paid for it and lost some vital points which might have seen us overtake Argentina and Kenya – pretty disappointing and totally unacceptable.

Canada 10 v England 14

Our performance against the USA may have reflected that previous disappointment and while the Americans were playing better in this tournament it was clear we allowed them to do so in this game – the edge was gone but there will be another day for settling this score. Canada bowed out of the Japan tournament in the Plate Semi-Finals.

Canada 15 v USA 28

So now it’s onto the big one – Hong Kong!

However there was more than enough to savour from this tournament in Japan – for example – there are more players moving into the on-field equation and getting an A+ grade when the dust settled. Obviously this has to be encouraging for the coach who has been cautious and conservative in his approach to the ‘bench-boys’.

And now with some injures it may force his hand even more with Hong Kong a week away.

It is clear that Conor Trainor has found his sevens legs again and is playing with power, skill and determination – a Moonlight/Trainor combination is a formidable force and is one of the reasons for our success so far this season.

Add to that Nanyak Dala who is in clear sevens-mode now (as opposed to XVs) and our arsenal is enhanced even more.

The return of O’Toole is absolutely encouraging but he is still one or two tournaments away from his best ‘sevens-form’.

There is no surprise in the form of Oakville’s Mike Scholz however who came off the bench in Japan and ended the tournament as a starter.

His patience at biding his time in the dugout has been rewarded at last and he has taken full advantage of his opportunity by scoring tries, playing some sound defence and showing top-drawer skills close to the ball and at the tackle.

Along with the multi-talented Harry Jones – Scholz has a talent for finding the try-line and being around the ball – something Canada can never have enough of that is certain.

And despite the Welsh announcer completely mishandling his name on Day 1 – by the end of Day 2 the Welshman had finally got it right after several prompts from his PA partner Willie O…and so he should!

JBAA’s Sean White had some excellent moments in this tournament too coming from the bench – timing is everything and a fresh Sean White inserted into the game presents a significant danger to any team on the circuit – he is instinctive and quick at spotting opportunity in front of him especially close to the goal-line.

Overall – a disappointing tournament?

Certainly not as the individual player gains were really encouraging and very positive in Tokyo – but the chance to overtake two teams in the iRB Standings was lost – and clearly this opportunity was out of our control and firmly in the hands of Alex Ruiz of France.

Sorry… but in the end referee Ruiz gets the wooden spoon or its equivalent. He also gets a bottle of this year’s red wine from the Saanich peninsula, a paddle, a small canoe and a map of how to navigate the Suez Canal at night on his way home to France! What a complete blunder…

Hong Kong is next and another crack at England in Pool play – stay tuned.

Pool for Hong Kong – England, Canada, Argentina, Portugal

Canada Team
Nanyak Dala – Castaway Wanderers RFC Saskatoon, SK
Sean Duke – University of Victoria Vikes Vancouver, BC
Lucas Hammond – Toronto Nomads Toronto, ON
Ciaran Hearn – Castaway Wanderers RFC Conception Bay South, NL
Nathan Hirayama – University of Victoria Vikes Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – Capilano RFC North Vancouver, BC
John Moonlight – James Bay AA Pickering, ON
Chauncey O’Toole – Castaway Wanderers Belleisle, NB
Mike Scholz – Castaway Wanderers RFC Oakville, ON
Conor Trainor – UBCOB Ravens Vancouver, BC
Jake Webster – James Bay AA Lindsay, ON
Sean White – James Bay AA Victoria, BC

Team Staff
Geraint John – Head Coach
Morgan Williams – Assistant Coach
Danielle Mah – Physiotherapist
Calum Ramsay – Performance Analyst
Lorna Barry – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Brian Hunter – Manager

Posted in National Men's 7s.