Vancouver, BC – March 11, 2019: Canada finished the 2019 HSBC Canada Sevens in 10th place, their second-best performance after Hamilton in January this year. A sluggish start against Samoa in their opening pool game gave the team a mountain to climb. Despite two scintillating victories over 2018 tournament champions Fiji and runners up Kenya, they were unable to make it into the Cup playoffs. Drawing on the energy from the vocal home crowd, the team put in an excellent performance on day two, making it all the way to the Challenge Final against Australia, only to run out of steam.
With notable absences from Nathan Hirayama (day 2) and Justin Douglas, many of the other players took the opportunity to shine, most notably Connor Braid (Victoria, BC). An eight-year veteran of the Canadian Men’s Sevens team, Braid has always been an impact player but this weekend it seemed he could do no wrong. Playmaker, try scorer, tackling machine and slotting challenging conversions like it was a casual knock around in the park. It was little wonder then that by the end of the weekend, Braid topped the DHL Player Tracker table for the tournament and currently leads the overall standings for this year’s World Rugby Sevens Series. The achievement is even more impressive when you consider that BRaid was also the DHL Impact PLayer of the USA 7s just a week earlier.
Far from being a one-man show, Braid was simply the spearhead of a great team performance with the likes of Harry Jones, Mike Fuailefau, Admir Cejvanovic and Phil Berna all helping Canada’s scoring tally over the weekend. Likewise, Issac Kaay, Pat Kay, Matt Mullins and Jake Theil all fought tirelessly against unrelenting oppositions all tournament long. While it may not have been the final standing the team aspired to, few can deny that it was a weekend full of string highlights from the Canadian Men’s Sevens team.
The side will now have a well-earned break before resuming training ahead of the East Asian doubleheader in April, starting with the historic Hong Kong Sevens on the 5th-7th and then the Singapore Sevens on the 13th-14th. There is even more international rugby still to come in BC this Spring, with the 2019 HSBC Canada Women’s Sevens taking place at Langford on May 11-12. Tickets for the tournament go on sale next week, with early bird tickets available March 19th and public on sale March 21st. For more information on tickets, click HERE.
If you missed any of the action at BC Place this weekend, check out Rugby Canada’s game-by-game updates below.
Canada vs. Samoa
Canada fall to Samoa in their first match of the day 38-7.
Canada were greeted with roaring cheers from their home crowd, running out of the tunnel in BC Place. Scoring Canada’s lone try was Mike Fuailefau, getting an inside ball and stretching over the try line for the score. Captain Nathan Hirayama got the conversion.
In the second half Samoa took over, scoring four unanswered tries and come out victorious 38-7.
Canada vs. Fiji
Canada fired up the hometown fans with an all-important against third ranked Fiji, winning 26-19.
Starting off the scoring for Canada was Matt Mullins on the wing from a Connor Braid pass. Then it was Braid himself getting an inside ball from Luke McCloskey and sliding in to score. Nathan Hirayama added on the kick but Fiji were able to score just before the break and tied things up at 12 a piece.
In the second half Mike Fuailefau crashed through the Fijian line to score, his second of the tournament so far. Harry Jones put Canada back in front after a Fijian try, dotting down between the posts. Hirayama was good for both conversions and sealed the Canadian victory, 26-19.
Canada’s last match of the day will be against Kenya at 8:30pm ET/ 5:40pm PT.
Canada vs. Kenya
Canada come out victorious to against Kenya winning 36-12.
Starting off the match the ball found it’s way through hands to move out wide to Matt Mullins for the try. A bumbling ball was then scooped up by Harry Jones and tossed out to Connor Braid who touched down over the try line. Braid remained dominate, breaking through a tackle to score his second.
Kenya ended the half with two tries to cut Canada’s lead 19-12 at the half.
Canada started the second half off with a third try from Braid, finding a hole in the line and slipping through. A TMO decision was needed when Admir Cejvanovic battled to get over the line. Refs ruled it a try and Canada went up 31-14. Canada made Kenya pay for an error deep in their end with Phil Berna crossing the try line for Canada’s final score of the day.
Braid had two conversions on top of his hattrick, rounding out the dominate performance.
Canada vs. Spain
Canada put on an amazing show in front of the home crowd fans, defeating Spain in the Challenge Trophy semifinals 33-7.
Starting things off for Canada was Connor Braid, getting an offload from Matt Mullins to go in for the try. Mullins followed up with one of his own shortly after.
The ball found it’s way into familiar hands once again as Luke McCloskey hit Braid on the inside who dove in for the try. Spain got on the board just before the end of the first half to make it 21-7 at the break. Braid was good for three conversions in the first.
Canada started off the second half in a big way with Phil Berna fending off the tackle and going in for the try. Braid showed just how dominate a player he is, making a try saving tackle that popped the ball loose and put possession back in Canada’s hands.
In the final seconds of play Jake Thiel hit a sprinting Mullins on the wing, freeing him for the try. Braid finished the match with two tries and four conversions.
Canada vs. Scotland
Canada won their way to the Challenge trophy finals in stellar fashion beating Scotland 19-14.
After going scoreless in the first half Canada came back in the second with a vengeance. Scoring back to back Canadian tries in similar fashion, Connor Braid offloaded to Harry Jones two plays in a row and tied things up at 14-all.
It was then Isaac Kaay who got BC Place on their feet as he stepped his way through to score the winning try for Canada. Braid added two conversions.
Canada vs. Australia
Canada closed out the HSBC Canada Sevens against Australia in the Challenge Trophy final, losing 35-21.
Luke McCloskey was the first to cross the whitewash for Canada, getting an offload from Connor Braid. With the conversion by Braid they trailed Australia 14-7 at the half.
Isaac Kaay answered two Australian scores with a try, shaking his defender to dot down. Harry Jones scored between the posts with seconds winding down but it was too little too late for Canada and they fell to Australia 35-21.
Braid was good for three conversions in the match and was Canada’s leading scorer for the tournament.
Canada finishes the tournament in 10th place and will start preparations for the next stop of the HSBC World Rugby Series in Hong Kong, April 5-7, 2019.