George Town, Cayman Islands – July 7, 2019: After Canada’s Women’s Sevens team qualified for Tokyo 2020 through the HSBC Women’s Sevens Series, the men’s side went undefeated at the Rugby Americas North Sevens tournament to send the team to their first ever Olympic games. It was a dominant performance from the side overflowing with BC talent as the favourites lifted championship trophy, surrendering just 15 points over 6 matches while racking up an incredible 293 of their own.
The result marks a huge milestone for sevens rugby in Canada. The Canadian women’s team qualified and medalled in 2016, the first year that sevens was offered as an Olympic sport. The men’s team looked poised to qualify alongside them, but lost to the United States in the final of the North American qualifying tournament, meaning they would need to win an additional tournament to qualify. A heartbreaking 14-12 loss to Russia in the quarterfinal prevented the Canadian men from joining the women in Rio, but in 2020, Canada will be represented in both the women’s and men’s sevens competitions after a dominant weekend was capped off by an RAN Sevens championship.
Canada vs Barbados
Canada started off the RAN 7s with a dominant performance against Barbados, taking game one 47-0. The chemistry between co-captains and provincial teammates Nathan Hirayama and Harry Jones was on display early in the first, finding gaps in the line to add onto Canada’s lead.
Matt Mullins came off the bench in the second and headed straight over the try line with two massive fends. An impressive take off the restart by Josiah Morra set Canada off on a clinical run ending in a Jake Thiel try.
Canada vs. Mexico
Canada notched their second win of the RAN 7s tournament against Mexico, 49-5. Absolutely dominant at the restart. Back-to-back tries by Mullins and Jones put Canada up 24-5 at the half.
Canada maintained their dominance in the second half with BC players Hirayama, Berna, and Zaruba all scoring.
Canada vs. Bermuda
Canada cruised to their third win of the day against Bermuda.
North Vancouver’s Adam Zaruba was phenomenal in the final match of pool play, scoring two tries in the first half and one shortly after the restart to earn his hat-trick. The Canadians continued to dominate the match, as BC athletes Isaac Kaay, Jake Thiel and Pat Kay added on tries for Canada to end the match 55-0.
Canada vs. Guyana
Canada continue their dominance into day two with a comfortable win over Guyana, taking it 47-5.
Humid conditions translated into a couple errors for both teams but Canada exploited the gap in the Guyana line time and time again. A Fijian-style play by Hirayama saw him scooping the ball back with one hand to Cooper Coats who ran it in for the score.
In the second, sloppy hands slowed the pace of the game slightly and gave Guyana their lone score of the match. Canada tightened up quickly with Coe dotting down the finishing try to secure the win 47-5.
Canada vs Bermuda
A slower start for Canada in the semifinal match. Zaruba showed off his pace and strength, scoring Canada’s first try before clearing two men out at the ruck to turn the ball over–resulting in a score by Jake Thiel. Canada were up 22-0 at the break.
Cleaning things up in the second, Zaruba set the tone with a quick try. Pat Kay utilized his quick step to beat two defenders and dart in for the score. The clinical work by the Canadians lead them to a 55-0 semifinal win.
Canada vs Jamaica
(Highlights via CBC)
Canada notched their final win of the RAN7s tournament against Jamaica, 40-5 to punch their ticket to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Jamaica’s defensive line looked strong to start the Cup final but both Kay and Coe finally found space on the outside to kick off the scoring in the first. A patient Hirayama helped Canada keep control of the game, leading 19-0 at the break.
After a Jamaican try in the corner, Isaac Kaay electrified the Canadian team–kicking up a low ball to himself and running it in for the try. From there Canada took over with co-captains Hirayama and Jones dotting down with force as their Olympic dreams started to become a reality.
“Words can’t express how I feel right now,” said captain Harry Jones in a post-match interview. “A lot of us have been grinding for this for a long, long time. To all of our fans, supporters, staff, before and now, we love you all. This is such a great feeling.”
The Tokyo Olympics begin on July 24, 2020.