London Sevens Review by BCRN 7s Correspondent: Next Up Paris 7s
Last year in London things went very well for Canada – see the results below:
We were in an incredibly tough pool and regardless of the assignment Canada soared in the English capitol with some excellent results on both days.
Canada 22 v Fiji 19
Canada 12 v New Zealand 19
Canada 28 v Japan 14
Canada 28 v Argentina 7
Canada 5 v England 24
Canada 22 v USA 19
In 2018 the pool assignment maybe slightly less challenging but after 32 days off since Singapore the Squad will have had plenty of recovery time – and the coach did note that the squad was reasonably healthy prior to their departure for London.
We played South Africa close in Singapore and should have beaten Samoa.
Russia always plays well against us but they do not have the experienced top end players like Hirayama, Jones and the in-form Justin Douglas – so there is plenty to be optimistic about as kick off approaches.
Clearly for one pool opponent – South Africa – there is a lot at stake in London - and in Paris for that matter.
Entering the Twickenham venue they are four points adrift of leaders Fiji and so finishing well at both venues is critical for them if they wish to win the Series this year prior to the RWC in July.
When our squad landed at London’s Heathrow Airport a slightly different team disembarked from the flight which originated at YVR – again we enter a second tournament without the inspirational John Moonlight - and Tevaughn Campbell had returned to his football club. Last year the talented Lucas Hammond was injured and Connor Braid was not in the selection. Missing this year as well is Adam Zaruba – nevertheless for the staff it is how and when to use the personnel on the field in order to get a result and some critical series points.
Canada started their London challenge with a victory against Samoa. It was a determined effort from everyone defensively and when the two opportunities came Canada pounced on them. The Team showed great patience with the ball-in-hand throughout the first half and just before the horn Isaac Kaay scored a vital try. The second half mirrored the first half in many respects with no team giving any ground until late in the frame when Justin Douglas seized an opportunity and scored - Hirayama converted both tries. It was the best possible start to this crucial tournament for Canada. The coach may have had some issues surrounding ball retention as there were too many loose turnovers and the support was too slow at getting to the tackle at times. But a win is what was required and Canada accomplished that in the first game of the day at Twickenham Stadium.
Canada 14 v Samoa 0
Intentions were clear immediately in this contest as both teams realized what was at stake – the physicality was apparent from the start and the 7-0 score at the half reflected the intense nature of the game. Canada battled hard throughout and South Africa did not get their meaningful points until after half-time. A yellow card to South Africa right after half-time made things even more intense but Canada could not find the try-line until Harry Jones scored as the half was winding down. It was his 100th try on the circuit which is a massive accomplishment but it is fairly certain he would have traded in that record for a Canada win instead. Either way – well done Harry!
Canada 7 v South Africa 17
Canada completed their fist day in London by earning a berth in the quarter-finals on Day 2. Canada started very well and were really convincing with the ball-in-hand. Tries came right away and once again Nathan Hirayama was at his playmaking best as he directed Canada’s attack. The score was 7-0 then 12-0 until Canada gave up possession and the Russians got back into the game. For a team that had looked so good on attack the reverse must be said when we did not have the ball and by half-time the score was 12-10 and Canada was less than convincing in their tackle commitments. The coach was understandably ‘direct’ with his half-time comments but still the second frame did not start as was required with a knock-on and immediately Canada was thrust into a defensive posture. At a critical point Isaac Kaay made a try-saving tackle on our goal-line and after the 5 meter scrum Canada went the length of the field for a deflating try by Douglas that took the wind right out of the Russians. Restarts were generally going well and after another restart possession Matt Mullins pushed a defender away and galloped to the in-goal area – 29-10 and game over! A satisfying Day 1 all in all but attention to defensive commitments will need to improve tomorrow as the top teams challenge for the Cup.
Canada 29 v Russia 10
The only potential ‘easy draw’ in the quarters on Day 2 belonged to the feisty Americans who drew Ireland and by a turn of fate that draw went poorly for the Americans. Canada drew Fiji. Fiji were devastating on Day 1 in London especially against arch rivals New Zealand in their pool game so it was clear Canada were going to have their work in front of them. And that proved to be the case as Fiji crossed Canada’s line twice in the early stages of the first half before Douglas scored just before the half ended. After the half Fiji switched gears and before all was said and done they had run up 40 points. By the end of the second day it was clear that Fiji are unstoppable in the short game and while South Africa has the best formula to beat the Islanders – the powerful Fijians would not be stopped in London.
Canada 7 v Fiji 40
Another in the ongoing series of nail-biting contests between these two teams – an intense first half which saw the Americans get on the board first but Lucas Hammond answered immediately for Canada with an excellent try which Hirayama converted. Isles scored next then Harry Jones answered and Williams touched down before the horn – and there was nothing in it at half-time (12-15). Douglas scored a beauty just after the second half started but it ended up not to be enough despite the intense play from both team who willed each other to break. After Douglas scored we were ahead on the score sheet but more possession and asserting their simple game plan allowed the Americans to score twice and steal a victory they probably didn’t deserve.
When the dust settled in London Canada gained some valuable points and moved into 9th position in the Series Standings – ahead of us is Argentina who we cannot catch up to in Paris but immediately behind us there is danger lurking so it is vital that we perform well next weekend in the French capitol.
Canada 19 v USA 27
Paris is next – stay tuned and good luck Canada!
Paris Pool B: Canada, South Africa, Russia and Scotland
Sevens - London Selection 2018
Luke Bradley Port Alberni Black Sheep (Port Alberni, BC)
Connor Braid James Bay AA (Victoria, BC)
Andrew Coe Markham Irish (Toronto, ON)
Admir Cejvanovic Burnaby Lake RFC (Burnaby, BC)
Justin Douglas Abbotsford RFC (Abbotsford, BC)
Mike Fuailefau Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Lucas Hammond Toronto Nomads (Toronto, ON)
Nathan Hirayama Captain – Unattached (Richmond, BC)
Harry Jones Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Isaac Kaay University of Victoria (Kamloops, BC)
Pat Kay Castaway Wanderers (Duncan, BC)
Luke McCloskey Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Matt Mullins Queen’s University (Belleville, ON)
Canada Sevens Team – London 2017
Luke Bradley University of Victoria Port Alberni, BC
Jared Douglas Abbotsford RFC Abbotsford, BC
Justin Douglas Abbotsford RFC Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau Castaway-Wanderers Victoria, BC
(Lucas Hammond University of Victoria Toronto, ON)
Nathan Hirayama University of Victoria Richmond, BC
Pat Kay Castaway-Wanders RFC Duncan, BC
Isaac Kaay University of Victoria Kamloops, BC
John Moonlight James Bay AA Pickering, ON
Luke McCloskey Castaway-Wanders RFC Victoria, BC
Matt Mullins Queens University Belleville, ON
Adam Zaruba Capilano RFC Vancouver, BC