Canada wraps up the World Sevens season this weekend in London, hoping to end on a high note after a disappointing showing in Paris. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada looks to end 7s season on high note

Canada wraps up the World Sevens season this weekend in London, hoping to end on a high note after a disappointing showing in Paris.

Still there have been more pluses than minuses for coach Damian McGrath’s men recently, including a first-ever tournament win in Singapore last month. However, after ending their 140-event drought, the Canadian men slumped to an 11th-place finish last weekend in Paris.

Bumping heads with a surging Scotland and Series champion South Africa in their Paris pool didn’t help — Scotland went unbeaten before running into South Africa in the final. And it doesn’t get any easier in London where the Canadian men, who slipped one spot to No. 8 in the overall standings after Paris, are in a pool with No. 3 Fiji, No. 4 New Zealand and No. 15 Japan.

This season, Canada is 0-4-0 against Fiji, 1-1-1 against New Zealand and 1-1-0 against Japan, including a 21-7 win last week in Paris.

The Canadians went 2-3-0 in Paris, blanking No. 14 Russia 33-0 in their only other win.

The three losses were all painful. South Africa dominated en route to a 31-7 victory while the losses to Scotland and Argentina came in the dying seconds.

The Scots, whose roster was reinforced with six Pro12 players including four internationals, scored on a chip-and-chase after a Canadian penalty with no time remaining for a 26-19 win. Argentina, regaining possession after a Canadian forward pass, penetrated the Canada defence for the winning try with 20 seconds remaining for a 15-14 decision.

“It was a lesson in game management for us really,” said McGrath.

The loss to the Blitzboks still rankles, despite the quality of their side.

“We let ourselves down badly against South Africa, which was a real disappointment,” said McGrath. “Just the manner in which we played, it was almost as if we didn’t feel we could win — which is probably the only time I thought that this year.”

McGrath, always looking for positives, says the Canadians have learned from Paris.

“The players learned a couple of valuable things like how to close a game out,” he said. “And I don’t think we’re making those mistakes again. The only downside I think is it’s given us a really really tough draw this weekend.”

And despite missing out on the Cup quarter-finals for only the second time in seven events, McGrath saw some real class on offence.

“Some of the tries we scored were top-drawer … there were far more positives than there are negatives,” he said.

Canada starts play Saturday with 81 points in the season standings, six behind sixth-place Scotland and one ahead of Argentina. The Canadians finished 13th, ninth and sixth, respectively, over the last three seasons on the World Series.

Speedster Justin Douglas, who has served as Canada’s get-out-of-jail card all season, ranks third on the circuit going into London with 34 tries in the first nine events. Playmaker Nathan Hirayama stands seventh in points with 220. And hard-nosed captain John Moonlight enters the event on 98 career tries and 490 points.

McGrath hopes to have a healthy Lucas Hammond back after he missed out on Paris due to a head blow during training. Matt Mullins, who sat out Monday 2 in Paris, has recovered from a nasty gash sustained in a clash of heads against South Africa.

The coach also expects to see the best of Adam Zaruba and Pat Kay, saying their match fitness was boosted in Paris after injury absences.

———

Canada

Luke Bradley, UVic Vikes, Port Alberni, B.C.; Jared Douglas, Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford, B.C.; Justin Douglas, Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford, B.C.; Mike Fuailefau, Castaway Wanderers, Victoria; Lucas Hammond, UVIC Vikes, Toronto; Nathan Hirayama, UVic Vikes, Richmond, B.C.; Harry Jones, Capilano RFC, Vancouver; Isaac Kaay, UVic Vikes, Kamloops, B.C.; Pat Kay, Castaway Wanderers, Duncan, B.C.; Luke McCloskey, Castaway Wanderers, Victoria; John Moonlight (capt.), James Bay AA, Pickering, Ont.; Matt Mullins, Queen’s University, Belleville, Ont.; Adam Zaruba, Capilano RFC, Vancouver.

Just Posted

Unemployment rate and EI beneficiaries down in Central Alberta

The unemployment rate for Red Deer region and the number of people… Continue reading

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Women’s marches underway in Canadian cities, a year after Trump inauguration

Women are gathering in dozens of communities across the country today to… Continue reading

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by government

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

WATCH news on the go: Replay Red Deer Jan. 21

Watch news highlights from Red Deer and Central Alberta

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month