Sevens – Cape Town Review by BCRN 7s Correspondent
News from South Africa that Lucas Hammond suffered a serious ankle injury in Dubai which required surgery was not exactly what the coach needed as his team prepared for the weekend tournament in Cape Town.
The Toronto native has 46 caps of experience and is a critical link between the forwards and backs when he is in top form and his loss to the team is significant.
His injury will narrow the bench when the games start on Saturday in the Western Cape. It’s been a difficult 18 months for Hammond who has had a string of injures which has limited his participation in the circuit and caused selection difficulties.
Regardless – the team practiced well during the week from all accounts in the beautiful surroundings of the Western Cape – certainly along with Vancouver - one of the most picturesque stops on the tour. Day 1 found warm temperatures and a huge crowd enjoying the second stop on the HSBC Sevens circuit.
Pools in Cape Town: Australia, Wales, Scotland, Canada
Day 1 Summary – After two disappointing pool games against Scotland and Australia – Canada finally got their tight game going against Wales who simply couldn’t get the ball away from the Canadians. We should have at least tied the Scots but once again failed to gain a final possession which was required for the comeback. Unlike the Australian game against Scotland our defensive alignment was sound for the most part but still some players are still exposed at the tackle. Against Australia we got into a mess when we didn’t have the ball – a counter-ruck that exposed the edge and half tackles that gave the Aussies room outside. Frustrating stuff particularly for the coach as it appears to be the same guys who are having a lapse in concentration and in Sevens consequences are severe. Finally against Wales - restarts were sound and possession was plentiful as Canada executed their tight game with some good off loads and hard running. As always Hirayama was the key to success and the subtle parts of his skill set were on full display – it’s magical to watch! Plus he nailed his conversions as well. A 14-7 half-time score flattered Wales and as the game moved into the second frame Canada moved further ahead as Wales squandered away what little possession they did manage to retain. Unlike other games last week everyone seemed to be on the same page in this final game on Day 1 about what plan was required and how to play to the script. One thing is certain – we are much better with the ball in-hand than without it. So it’s off to the Challenge Round on Day 2 with still some opportunities to gain valuable points. Zimbabwe is up first in the morning and everything to play for certainly…
Day 1 Results
Canada 14 v Scotland 21
Canada 15 v Australia 29
Canada 28 v Wales 7
Day 2 Summary – Day 2 in the Western Cape opened with a win for Canada over Zimbabwe… once again a repeat of Day 2 in Dubai. And like Dubai Canada made an early exit after their second game as Argentina put us to the sword. Another 5 points were gained in the Series standings and Hirayama and Douglas recorded some personal gains for the record books - but both players would have been more satisfied with a win over Argentina and advancing to the Challenge Cup Final where more points were available. One thing that has not changed over the years since the circuit’s inception is the utter frustration of exiting any tournament early and heading back to the hotel in the team bus. Just as the excitement inside the stadium is building to frantic levels your team has no part of that celebration and the disappointment is profound. Our team has overcome so many obstacles already at this early stage of the season so realistically it’s not surprising that they have not reached their full potential yet or the form required in order to progress through a tournament and into the finals. Hamilton and Sydney are on the horizon early in 2019 and both venues will be a test to see if our boys can overcome the demons that have disabled our preparation and form thus far. There’s a lot at stake clearly as the qualification for the Olympic Games looms large and there is a minefield of obstacles ahead of them. Further is the fact that several teams have already started the first two tournaments well and achieved some valuable points so we are already in chase mode in that regard. How this will unfold is still in the balance and yet to be determined. Hamilton is next – stay tuned. Good luck Canada!
Day 2 Results
Canada 28 v Zimbabwe 24
Canada 14 v Argentina 24
Canada Sevens Team
1. Connor Braid James Bay AA Victoria, BC
2. Admir Cejvanovic Burnaby Lake RFC Burnaby, BC
3. Andrew Coe Markham Irish Toronto, ON
4. Justin Douglas Abbotsford RFC Abbotsford, BC
5. Cooper Coats Halifax Tars Halifax, NS
6. Nathan Hirayama Unattached Richmond, BC
7. Isaac Kaay UVIC Vikes Kamloops, BC
8. Patrick Kay Castaway Wanderers Duncan, BC
9. Luke McCloskey Castaway Wanderers Victoria, BC
10. Josiah Morra Toronto Saracens Toronto, ON
11. Matt Mullins Queen’s University Belleville, ON
12. Jake Thiel Abbotsford RFC Abbotsford, BC
13. Adam Zaruba Capilano RFC North Vancouver, BC