Rugby Canada‚s National Senior Men's Rugby Team emerged victorious at the 2012 Hong Kong Sevens finishing top in their division and securing status as one of the International Rugby Board's core teams.
With the IRB's Sevens World Series expanding next season from 12 to 15 core teams, the 2012 Hong Kong sevens was divided into two separate competitions. The top three finishers in Competition 2 earned promotion to the 15.
"We set out a goal and we wanted to win the tournament and knowing that if we won we got core status," stated Canada coach Geraint John. "So we've achieved two goals this weekend. "Credit to the players, they worked really hard this year and I think our performances deserved it."
In the pool stages, Canada finished top of their group despite losing a close game to Zimbabwe. But on day three of the tournament, when every game was doe-or-die, Canada rose to every challenge.
"We knew what we had to do and we knew what the status was in terms of how to become a core team," added John.
"We decided that one thing we weren't going to talk about was the word core. All we said was we were going to try to win a tournament. That was the big emphasis all weekend. That was a deliberate thing we did.
"I'm just really pleased for them because a lot of them have been on the circuit for a while," continued John. "We've worked hard over and I think out performances over the past few years show we deserve to be there."
By becoming a core team, Canada will now compete at every IRB World Series tournament. The 2011-12 series consists of nine weekend tournaments over seven months, filling stadiums in Australia, Dubai, South Africa, New Zealand, USA, Hong Kong, Japan, Scotland and England.
Core status will also mean that Canada is better prepared when rugby sevens is introduced into the Olympics in 2016. The tournament structure will be very similar to the ones on the World Series circuit and will feature many of the same teams. Canada already won the 2011 Pan-Am rugby sevens gold in Guadalajara.
"We have been inundated with e-mails and messages congratulating the team," stated Canada team's manager Brian Hunter. "We would like to thank everyone who has been supporting us through this campaign, from sponsors, supporters here, home and around the world, family friends and the Rugby Canada staff who work so hard in the background.
"The players have been outstanding on and off the field and they have been rewarded by establishing Canada as a core team now. This is very exciting for rugby in Canada."
ROAD TO SUCCESS ON DAY THREE
Canada started day three of the Hong Kong Sevens with a quarterfinal match-up against Russia.
Canada took an early lead with an unconverted try from Ciaran Hearn, but lost the lead to Russia soon after.
Canada retook the lead before halftime and dominated the second half. Sean Duke scored two tries and Conor Trainor one as Canada won 24-7.
Canada managed to avoid Zimbabwe in the semi-finals when the Africans lost in the final seconds of their quarterfinal with Portugal.
The Europeans were no pushovers: Canada took the lead in the 2nd minute of the semifinal and never relinquished it. Captain Nathan Hirayama`s goal kicking was the difference as Canada won 14-12.
Onto the Competition 2 final, Canada was able to relax knowing they had already secured core team status.
Sean Duke scored a hat-trick in the 22-5 victory over Spain, for whom the loss was tempered by the knowledge they too had already qualified for core status. Portugal earned the third spot with a win over Japan in the third place qualifier.
0:47 Sean Duke CAN Try
1:17 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Con Miss
2:27 Sean Duke CAN Try
2:58 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Con Miss
5:58 Sean White CAN Substitution
0:03 Marcus Poggi ESP Substitution
1:20 Sean White CAN Try
1:43 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Conversion
1:53 Matias Tudela ESP Substitution
2:02 John Moonlight CAN Substitution
5:32 Matias Tudela ESP Try
5:47 Harry Jones CAN Substitution
5:52 Cesar Sempere ESP Con Miss
7:25 Sean Duke CAN Try
7:55 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Con Miss
2:05 Conor Trainor CAN Try
2:45 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Conversion
4:58 Pedro Leal POR Try
5:24 Pedro Leal POR Con Miss
0:57 Taylor Paris CAN Try
1:10 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Conversion
1:17 Chauncey O'Toole CAN Substitution
4:05 Ciaran Hearn CAN Sin Bin
5:18 Sean White CAN Substitution
6:23 David Mateus POR Substitution
7:22 Sebastiao da Cunha POR Try
7:40 Pedro Leal POR Conversion
3:50 Ciaran Hearn CAN Try
4:18 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Con Miss
5:39 Dmitriy Perov (c) RUS Try
6:14 Alexander Yanyuskin RUS Conversion
7:35 Sean Duke CAN Try
7:56 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Conversion
0:18 Conor Trainor CAN Try
0:45 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Conversion
4:13 Chauncey O'Toole CAN Substitution
4:15 Jeffery Hassler CAN Substitution
4:23 Nikolay Zaporzhin RUS Substitution
4:40 Vitaly Zhivatov RUS Substitution
6:21 Sean Duke CAN Try
6:55 Nathan Hirayama (c) CAN Con Miss
7:01 Harry Jones CAN Substitution
Tyler Ardron (McMaster Marauders, Ontario Blues) (Peterborough, ON)
Nanyak Dala (Castaway Wanderers, Prairie Wolf Pack) (Saskatoon, SK)
Sean Duke (University of Victoria, British Columbia) (Vancouver, BC)
Ciaran Hearn (Castaway Wanderers, The Rock) (Conception Bay, NL)
Nathan Hirayama (University of Victoria, British Columbia) (Richmond, BC)
Taylor Paris (Markham Irish Canadians, Ontario Blues) (Barrie, ON)
Conor Trainor (UBC, Old Boy Ravens, British Columbia) (Vancouver, BC)
Sean White (James Bay, British Columbia) (Victoria, BC)
Harry Jones (University of British Columbia, British Columbia) (Vancouver, BC)
Mike Scholz (Castaway Wanderers, Ontario Blues) (Oakville, ON)
Chauncey O‚Toole (Belleisle Rovers, Ospreys, The Rock) (Saint John, NB)
Jeff Hassler (Okotoks RFC, Prairie Wolf Pack) (Okotoks, AB)
John Moonlight (James Bay, Ontario Blues) (Scarborough, ON)
HSBC Sevens World Series 2011/12
Round 1 - 25-26 November 2011 - Australia
Round 2 - 2-3 December 2011 - Dubai
Round 3 - 9-10 December 2011 - South Africa
Round 4 - 3-4 February 2012 - New Zealand
Round 5 - 10-12 February 2012 - USA
Round 6 - 23-25 March 2012 - Hong Kong
Round 7 - 31 March - 1 April 2012 - Japan
Round 8 - 5-6 May 2012 - Scotland
Round 9 - 12-13 May 2012 - England