LANGFORD, B.C. — Canada’s men’s sevens head coach Damian McGrath has named 8 BC athletes in his team for the opening two tournaments of the 2017-18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series season in Dubai, UAE and Cape Town, SA.
McGrath’s roster, which is to be lead by North Vancouver’s Harry Jones as Captain, includes a wealth of experience, as all 13 players named have previous appearances on the series.
“The players are so keen to get back playing; for 75% of the squad it’s their first game since May 2017 at least. Pre season has gone on for what seems like an eternity, so we are ready to get started,” said McGrath from Langford.
“Apart from Andrew Coe (Fifteens) and Adam Zaruba (unavailable) everyone is available, which is a novelty in itself. The return of Connor Braid and Admir Cejvanovic is a plus, but to welcome back Liam Underwood and Phil Berna, who both virtually missed the entire season last year after injury, is a bonus,” added McGrath.
The 2017-18 season consists of 10 tournaments on the World Series, along with the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April and the Rugby World Cup 7s in July in USA.
“We have African opposition in our pool to start the series in Dubai: South Africa is the reigning champions and seem to be as strong and as formidable as ever; Uganda is amongst the batch of improving sevens nations who posed Canada and others problems last year in Dubai; Kenya is a difficult team to play at any time - they are big strong, powerful players whose speed can unlock any team. Our opening game against Kenya is a key one,” added McGrath.
Along with captain Jones, Canada will be led by returning veterans John Moonlight, who is Canada’s all-time tournament cap leader, and Hirayama. The Richmond, BC native sits 14th on the all-time points scoring race with 1,130 and finished last season in 4th with 269 points.
Last year Canada made history by winning their first-ever tournament in 140 appearances on the world series, by defeating USA 26-19 to capture the Singapore Cup Trophy in April. Canada would finish the series in 8th place through at the finale in London.
“We proved last year that we can be among the top 8 teams in the world, however I think its important we don’t get carried away; We are a tier 2 nation punching above our weight in so many ways, yet we can compete and are still improving.
“A good start would set the scene for a good season ahead,” added McGrath.
Abbotsford’s Justin Douglas had a breakout season as Canada’s top finisher, scoring 40 tries in 10 tournaments, good enough for third behind USA’s Perry Baker (57) and England’s Dan Norton (51).
For the third straight year, HSBC Canada Sevens returns to Vancouver’s BC Place March 10-11. After more than 76,000 fans filled the stadium for this year’s events, tickets have been selling at a rapid pace for next year’s tournament.
To purchase tickets, please click here.
Canada’s men’s roster for Dubai & Cape Town:
Phil Berna – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
Connor Braid – James Bay AA (Victoria, BC)
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 – Unattached (Richmond, BC)
Harry Jones – Captain, Capilano RFC (North Vancouver, BC)
Isaac Kaay – UVIC Vikes (Kamloops, BC)
Pat Kay – Castaway Wanderers (Duncan, BC)
John Moonlight – James Bay AA (Pickering, ON)
Matt Mullins – Queen’s University (Belleville, ON)
Liam Underwood – Balmy Beach RFC (Toronto, ON)
Canada’s Dubai Schedule on Friday, December 1:
Canada vs. Kenya – 10:30am local time (1:30am ET on Friday/10:30pm PT on Thursday)
Canada vs. Uganda – 2:14pm local time (5:14am ET/2:14am PT on Friday)
Canada vs. South African – 7:53pm local time (10:53am ET/7:53am PT on Friday)
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Calendar & Upcoming Tournaments:
Dubai, UAE – December 1-2, 2017
Cape Town, South Africa – December 9-10, 2017
Sydney, Australia – January 26-28, 2018
Hamilton, New Zealand – February 3-4, 2018
Las Vegas, USA – March 2-4, 2018
Vancouver, Canada – March 10-11, 2018
Hong Kong, Hong Kong – April 6-8, 2018
Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast, Australia – April 13-15, 2018
Singapore, Singapore – April 28-29, 2018
London, England – June 2-3, 2018
Paris, France – June 9-10, 2018
Rugby World Cup 7s – San Francisco, USA – July 2018