Canada defeats Spain 21-0 to advance to semifinals at HSBC Canada Sevens Rugby

VANCOUVER — Scrum-half Lucas Hammond scored a try and made a big defensive play as Canada defeated Spain 21-0 Sunday to advance to the semifinals of the HSBC Canada Sevens Rugby tournament.

It was a tight game with Canada leading 7-0 at half time. Justin Douglas of Abbotsford, B.C., and Theo Sauder of Vancouver scored late in the second half to seal the victory. Nathan Hirayama of Richmond, B.C., added three converts.

“It was a massive win for the boys,” Hammond said. “We knew Spain was going to come out flying. They are a tough team. We knew we had to stick to our structure, play our game and have patience out there.”

Hammond set up the game’s opening try with a long run. Later in the first half he stood tall on defence, knocking a Spanish player to touch at the goal line.

The Toronto native has just returned to the lineup after missing 14 months with a ligament injury in his foot.

“It was a tough year,” he said. “I was always focused on this moment and getting back into it.

“The boys have been great, helping me get back to speed relatively quick.”

Canada faces Australia in the semifinal. Australia, who went 3-0 in Saturday’s preliminary round, defeated England 31-12 earlier Sunday.

The Canadians won all three of their games during Saturday’s opening day of competition in the 16-team tournament. They started with a convincing 31-21 win over France, needed a couple late tries to upset Fiji 26-21, then pounded Wales 29-7 to finish on top of Pool B.

The worst Canada can finish is fourth.

Canada’s best finish at the Vancouver tournament was a seventh in 2018. The best finish in a tournament this year was a fifth in Hamilton, New Zealand.

Douglas said the team has been progressing all season.

“Just really buying into the game plan, really playing our structures,” he said. “Doing our roles within the team.”

A loud BC Place Stadium crowd cheered on the Canadians. At half time the fans serenaded the team with an enthusiastic if off-key version of O Canada.

Spectators came in a variety of colourful and imaginative costumes.

There were simple outfits like loud shirts decorated with pineapples and matching hats or black-and-red lumberjack jackets. Fuzzy onesies, some with hoods, were popular, as were red-and-white suits dotted with maple leaves. Brown sheep sat besides pink furry pigs near pandas. There were a group of Sasquatch wearing Canadian toques and pink flamingos lapping beer.

Flags from all the participating countries waved.

The tournament is being played at the same time other sports events around the world are being cancelled or postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix mentioned the tournament at the Vancouver COVID-19 update the previous day.

“I know people love that event and have been waiting for it to come to Vancouver, but if you’re sick, don’t go,” said Dix, a sports fan who has attended the event in the past. “Watch it on TV.”

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