(Photos: Ciaran Hearn [top] and Chauncey O'Toole [bottom] for Canada. Judy Teasdale photos)
Much like the USA, Canada dominated their pool play opponents during the NACRA 7s championship. And much like the USA and their female counterparts, there were certain drawbacks to having such an easy first day.
“We knew a little bit that it might be that way, but let’s try not to sound too arrogant,” Canada Men’s 7s coach Geraint John said of the level of competition. “The big thing we concentrate on is what we want to do, because sometimes the opposition doesn’t do what you expect them to. Our goal today was three games, three wins, get through the pool stages, score some tries, and we came away with no injuries. I’m quite happy.”
Canada wasn’t caught off guard too much, but John made sure his players knew tomorrow would be a different story.
“Sometimes we were scoring tries after winning a ball off a scrum or lineout, and that doesn’t often happen,” John said. “You usually go through a few phases before you score a try but the defense just wasn’t there. On the whole, the other teams competed well and tried hard. We’re fortunate that we’ve been on the IRB circuit and have a little e more experience than a lot of the other teams – same with the USA – but we’ve got to make sure that we’re not too complacent, too relaxed, and that we stay at our level and play well in the playoffs.”
Defense, again, is something that John will be looking for tomorrow. Canada didn’t have to play much of it during the day, beating Bermuda 48-0, Bahamas 33-5 and Mexico 43-0.
“It was nice against Mexico,” John said. “We had a little bit of a test defensively. We probably didn’t do as well as we wanted to structurally. We know that tomorrow will be a little different, they’re one-off games, and we have to do well. I have every confidence in the players. They’ll do their job; they know what they’re here for.”
John should have confidence in his players; the majority have been on tour before and have that benefit of international experience.
“We don’t usually have that,” John said. “We usually have two or three players who haven’t been on tour. Some of the players haven’t had that much game time before – like Jeff Hassler. He’s been in the squad but has never started. He started twice today and proved that he should probably start tomorrow.”
The field expects to see Canada and the USA in tomorrow’s final, but neither squad is looking past the teams they need to beat to get there. Whoever advances to the final will head to the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Russia, but the title would mean even more to the hometeam.
“This is first event of its kind in Canada,” John said of the international tournament. “It’s quite nice to have the crowd shouting in support for you; the majority wants you to win. We hope the media attention here, the work we’re doing with the youngsters, that people enjoy the game and it grows. And maybe we’ll get some Olympic athletes out of it as well.”
Canada starts its path to the final against Barbados at 11 a.m.; the USA plays Bermuda at 10:40 a.m.
Tries: Sean Duke 2, Ciaran Hearn, Phil Mack, John Moonlight, Sean White, Jeff Hassler 2
Conversions: Connor Braid 4
Tries: Connor Trainor, Ciaran Hearn 2, Sean White, Connor Braid
Conversions: Ciaran Hearn, Connor Braid 3
Tries: Andrew Bain
Tries: Connor Trainor 2, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, John Moonlight, Sean Duke, Tyler Ardron
Conversions: Phil Mack 4