Few sporting events in Canada match the fun, the festivities and the raw excitement of the Vancouver Sevens.
Now in its fifth year as part of the World Sevens Series, the Canadian leg, played at BC Place Stadium, has quickly become a favourite for players and fans alike.
It really is time for the hosts to show up. Only once has Team Canada made it to the Cup quarter-finals of its own event. That being a short-lived appearance in 2017 which ended in a heavy loss to South Africa.
Maybe, just maybe, the Canadians have an opportunity on home turf this weekend.
There are reasons to be positive. In addition to home advantage, Canada can be encouraged by its performances at the L.A. Sevens last weekend. The results didn’t necessarily reflect the effort but there are signs of improvement.
The long-awaited comeback of Justin Douglas made a sizeable difference. The big man from Abbotsford, B.C., slotted back in effortlessly after nine months on the sidelines. His power and appetite is a major weapon in the Canadian arsenal.
Douglas also has a private battle going on with his captain. Douglas and skipper Nate Hirayama are both closing in on scoring milestones. Entering the weekend, Hirayama has 144 World Series tries, just three more than his teammate. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that one or both could crack the 150 mark at the Canada Sevens.
As per Los Angeles, much depends on the opening game. Canada faces France and one hopes the relevant lesson was learned in California. A late lapse cost them a win over Ireland and ultimately a quarter-final berth. The French are notoriously unpredictable, so Canada must try and catch them cold in the early exchanges.
A winning start would make all the difference. There is no hiding from the powerful, in-form Fijians in the second game, but the pool finale against Wales should present few problems. Canada has the potential to be a star of its own show, but only if it can fire on all cylinders from the get-go.
Olympic roster spots
If any further motivation was needed, and it shouldn’t be, let’s not forget every game is a chance for these players to cement their spot on Canada’s Olympic roster. With only three tournaments remaining before Tokyo, head coach Henry Paul has a limited amount of time to evaluate his best squad.
The veterans are virtually assured of their seats on the plane, but there is still an opportunity for some of the younger players to prove their worth. Vancouver’s Theo Sauder, Milton, Ont., teenager David Richard, Abbotsford’s Jake Thiel and Toronto’s Josiah Morra are all hoping to get an Olympic call.
Sunday’s gold-medal game could be a repeat of Los Angeles. South Africa and Fiji could meet up again and if so the Fijians will have revenge in mind. The Blitzboks are coming to defend their Vancouver title after a miracle comeback last weekend.
Fiji will be not be in a forgiving mood. Prepare yourself for a grandstand finale at BC Place.
Published at Fri, 06 Mar 2020 09:00:00 +0000