Unbeaten Canadians claim men’s, women’s rugby crowns

Canada’s men’s and women’s 7s teams took the two division titles at the recent North America and Caribbean Rugby Association 7s Championship.

The women’s team not only went undefeated through the tourney, they didn’t give up a single point and finished with a 46-0 decision over Trinidad and Tobago for the title. The men’s team also came away with a perfect record, claiming the crown by virtue of a 26-19 win against the United States. Canada was host for its first ever international 7s tournament, played at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Nepean, ON.

After going 3-0 during the first day of the competition, the Canadian men found themselves facing Barbados in a quarter-final match. Showing their continued strength against the Caribbean teams, Canada won, 45-7, setting up a date with Jamaica in the semi-finals.

A dominating first half saw Canada jump to a 24-0 lead. A determined Jamaican squad tried to catch the Canadians but the hosts added one more try to their tally to finish with 31-0 victory and a match with the U.S. With both the U.S. and Canada now qualified for the two remaining 2013 Rugby 7s World Cup slots, both teams went into the final to capture regional bragging rights.

After the U.S. opened the scoring with the first try of the match, Canada stormed back to grab a 19-7 lead at the half. The U.S., which had shown just as much dominance in their pool as the Canadian’s, went into the second half with a hard hitting attack that produced two trys. The Canadian squad did not relent, however, and 7s veteran Sean Duke found an opening and made the most of it, lifting Canada back on top for a final score of 26-19.

“We were up by a few trys after the first half, but the U.S. was able to come back and score a couple of trys in the second, so it shows how unpredictable 7s can be,” said Duke who scored the game winning try in the finals. “We’re happy with the outcome, and it feels amazing to be able to come away with the win.”

“We came here to do a job, and that was to win this tournament. It’s pleasing to do that, it was a nail biter in the final but I thought on the whole we deserved to win it. We created more chances, and our guys were really dominate in the finals,” said Canada’s head coach, Geraint John.

“The USA came back in the second half and you never know what is going to happen in 7s but overall you gotta be pleased. Our goal was to qualify for the World Cup, we did that, and the next goal was to win the tournament, so I am very happy with the whole team.”

Canada’s women’s 7s squad went into the weekend ranked tops in their pool, and played up to expectations on Day One. Canada held its opposition scoreless through the first three games. Day Two saw more of the same, as Canada opened played its final round-robin game of the tournament against Trinidad and Tobago.

Ranked as one of the top teams in the world last season, the Canadians showed why they are a force to be reckoned with globally as they jumped to a 24-0 lead just before the end of the first half. Canada continued the attack into the second half, adding three more trys to finish with a 39-0 decision and a spot in the semi-finals against Mexico.

Canada maintained its offensive energy against Mexico and led 27-0 heading into the second half. The second half saw the Canadians add to their try total, finishing with final tally of eight. The women punched their ticket to the finals with a 42-0 win.

The women’s final saw Trinidad and Tobago come out of the gate hard and strong, keeping Canadians off of the board longer than any of the other opponents had throughout the tournament. Team captain Jen Kish finally opened the scoring with a try that saw her take complete control of the play that started the momentum for the Canadian side. Canada would finish the first half up 20-0 and would finish the second half even stronger for the 46-0 whitewash.

With the win, Canada qualified for the 2013 championship, grabbing the one remaining spot up for grabs in the women’s division.

“The big one is that we are going to the [Rugby 7s] World Cup, now we can prepare our players over the next months so they are successful next June in Moscow,” said head coach John Tait. “For me, one of the great things we got out of this tournament, other than winning and qualifying, was that we got to debut five new caps and they stepped onto the team pretty seamlessly, I thought they did very well.”

“We’re going to a World Cup, we fought our way into it. It was a great victory and the girls learned a lot and I learned a lot about being a leader,” said Women’s 7s Captain Jen Kish. “Overall, it was just a great tournament for us.”

Now that both teams find themselves heading to Moscow in 2013 and are NACRA champions, they can both walk away from this experience knowing that they made the absolute most of the opportunity to play an international tournament on home soil.