Canada Finish 14th at Their Own Tournament: Worst Performance of the Season
Canada lost to Samoa in the Shield final, it means they earned 2 points at the tournament, their worst this season. They still sit in 11th place but other teams 12 to 15 are closing the gap and 15th place is relegated next season.
Normally the mainstream media don't pay much attention to rugby and usually trot out something close to a Rugby Canada press release but as rugby grows the media are holding the team more accountable. The Canadian Press article
was actually well written, not the usual PR fluff this one hit some key points.
Here are some quotes from coach Damian McGrath.
"Teams see us as weak. When they get a score, they can get another one. We have to find a way to stop that. "
"It's a mental issue, every game that hasn't gone our way it's been about our own making. Our mistakes have cost tries."
Harry Jones also concurred on the mental issues.
"A lot of it comes down to mental work. Those little marginal errors that sometimes we make, the top teams aren't doing."
Defence is one of the key issues right now, teams are scoring too easily on Canada.
Here are a couple of GIFs showing the two Samoa tries that allowed them to pull away in the second half.
The first is a pretty easy splitting the defenders try, there's no effective pursuit and no cross cover. When you beat the first line of defence against Canada there is no second line.
The second is off a set play and it looks so easy, defenders over commit, not reading the play, it's a mental issue.
Here's an example of a mistake with the ball in hand and talks to the folly of moving players back and forth between XVs and 7s, Admir Cejvanovic takes an inside line when there's a two on one outside. Gareth Rees on commentary was also critical. It may be appropriate when you're a forward in XVs trying to run an inside line off the ball carrier but in this case he just had to keep his width to score.
Also another bit of somber news, Tevaughn Campbell may have clocked world class speed in a one off 40 yard combine but it's not translating to repetitive sprint action in rugby. Here he's given the ball in plenty of space, against one of Samoa's bigger, lumbering players and he can't beat him on the outside. Carlin Isles or Perry Baker would have smoked the defender. It's going to take another season or two for Campbell to learn how to use his speed and to be able develop a burst over the first few metres (repeatable on a 7s cycle) and fix the defender with a step. He's apparently going back to CFL for the season so it's hard to imagine how he's going to develop as a complete rugby player.
Ending on a positive note, there's Nathan Hirayama, breaking many of Canada's 7s records, currently top point scorer this year on the series, amazing considering he's playing on the 11th place team. He's carrying too much of the load, others need to step up. Canada's defence needs to toughen up and the team need to get their head in the right place for the next tournament which is Hong Kong in April.
Day 2 Opening Loss to Scotland, Win Over France Puts Canada in Shield Final for 13th Place vs Samoa: VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS CAN V FRA
Canada opened Day 2 with a disappointing 19-0 loss to Scotland which took them from the Bowl competition down to the Shield competition for 13th place.
They rebounded with a 31-19 win over France in the Shield semi-final. Scoring for Canada: Hirayama with 2, Moonlight, Braid and Douglas. It was Pat Kay who kept them going in the match early on, he set up both 1st half tries with line breaks. Canada went into the half down 19-14.
A strong second half saw Canada run in three tries to none for France.
Canada now face Samoa in the Shield final at 4:12pm.
Canada Win Final Match Over Uruguay But Drop to Bottom 8 With 1-1-1 Record
Unfortunate Day 1 for Canada, they could have made the Cup round except for the botched finish in the USA match. The consequence is a trip to the bottom 8 and the best they can do is 9th place tomorrow. They start with a match against Scotland at 9:30am.
Scoring for Canada in the last match were:
NS Hirayama 6'
JI Moonlight 8' & 8'
HA Jones 10'
CJ Braid 10'
J Douglas 14' & 15'
Canada got the necessary point differential to go through if USA defeated Australia but even though USA had a 21-7 lead at half they lost 31-21.
Canada Lose to USA at the Whistle: Video of Last 50 Seconds
All you need to know about this game is in the last 50 seconds. The teams battled back and forth, it was 21-21 with no time showing on the clock. Canada had a penalty, they could have tapped, kicked it out and gone with the tie. That would have put the standings USA 5, Oz 5, Canada 4, Uruguay 2. A win by Canada over Uruguay and barring a USA v Oz draw, Canada go into the Cup round.
Instead they decide to go for the lineout and the win. OK, still a high percentage choice but Hirayama misses the kick to touch. What! He nails these 99.9% of the time. Then madness ensues, Hammond, not quite sure what he saw is slow to get off the mark on the ball that's just begging to be kicked ahead and USA recover. If only Campbell had been on that wing you say. USA throw the ball back into their in-goal where Campbell has Baker lined up, tackle him and it's game over. No he misses him and Baker evades a few clutching Canada hands and gets the ball out. Still Canada have man advantage on that side of the field, but the USA runner still has a bit of energy left and takes an inside angle, Moonlight and Hammond are spent, look at Hirayama, "you make the tackle mate" and he dives for the feet but misses. USA scamper 100 metres and score under the post no pursuit... the ref was the only one with gas left in the tank.
It's so unusual for Hirayama to miss a kick like that and watching the awkward manner he gets tangled up with Hammond in the ensuing breakdown, thoughts go back a game to the forced HIA (head injury assessment) he went through. He was cleared of the concussion and let back on in that match but with all the awareness of concussion risks it's something that bears mentioning and monitoring.
Canada Draw With Australia 19-19 in Match One: Next Up USA at 3:36pm PT: VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
Canada went into the half ahead by a try due to the efforts of Nate Hirayama and Pat Kay but a couple of 2nd half "freak" plays gave the advantage to Australia before last minute heroics by Hirayama and Moonlight tied it at the whistle.
The video highlights below show the two plays. The first was when Canada dodged a bullet after an Australian kick and chase went through the goal area. On the subsequent scrum the Australian hooker perfectly timed a stretch and took one against the head as the ball rebounded back off one of the Canadian feet. A try resulted for Australia. The other miscue, either by Moonlight or the referee, that's open to discussion, was when Moonlight had moved far up protecting the ball at the ruck and technically it wasn't under his leg anymore. The ref indicated play on when the Canadians thought they would get a penalty after the Australian moved around the ruck and picked the ball up. Is it technically a correct call, will other refs call the same play consistently at this tournament? We've all seen refs call this as an infringement.
The result means the point differentials will be important, USA put 45 points on Uruguay and both Canada and Australia will look to do the same plus knock off the Americans. Canada v USA at 3:36pm PT.
Canada Name 13 Man Squad for Vancouver (Twice) - Hammond and Mullins Back
There was a bit of confusion as to who Canada would field on Saturday. At first their roster looked very similar to last week's but on the second release Lucas Hammond and Matt Mullins were inserted, Andrew Coe gone, Luke McCloskey moved to 13th man and Luke Bradley gone. That won't sit well with the Port Alberni crew after he featured in a local news article in the Port.
Coe is a good 7s player but looked a little tentative on the big stage, perhaps not synced in with the system of play yet. Bradley was starting to make his presence felt in the last couple of tournaments as he got some playing time, and scored his first two tries. With the return of Mullins there was one less spot for a big man, Isaac Kaay and Admir Cejvanovic haven't really been tearing up the field in that role so leaving Bradley out is a tough choice.
What will Damian McGrath's choices be for starters? For certain Hirayama, Jones, Moonlight, the core group. He's been going with Fuailefau although there's some defensive nonchalance there sometimes, he can open things up on attack. If Lucas Hammond is fully match fit then he would be the choice, if not Pat Kay. Justin Douglas for conservative speed, likely ahead of Tevaughn Campbell - faster but riskier. The final choice should be Connor Braid for size and mobility but could be one of the big men Kaay, Cejvanovic or Mullins. Australia are up first, strong at the contact point but with a bit of pace as well.
Canada vs. Australia at 11:42am PT
Canada vs. USA at 3:36pm PT
Canada vs. Uruguay at 6:46pm PT
The games won't be on TV but will be live streamed from cbcsports.ca
Harry Jones interview
Damian McGrath interview
EARLIER RUGBY CANADA RELEASE