SPORTS

Canada Target France, Fiji

The Canadian men’s 7s team want to make a statement early when they face France in their first match of the HSBC Canada Sevens tournament on Sunday morning.
07 Mar 2020 12:45
Canada Target France, Fiji
Canada 7s captain Nathan Hirayama (middle) shows his new match boots designed by the children at the Ronald McDonald House BC during training at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, Canada on March 4, 2020. Photo: World Rugby. Photo: World Rugby

The Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team will be the target from hosts Canada in their Pool B clash of the Canada Sevens in Vancouver on Sunday.

The Canadians are confident that they can repeat last year’s upset win over the Fijians during pool play.

Canada 7s head coach and former England international Henry Paul said they intend to make an early statement in their pool opener against France, to make things a bit easier before taking on the Fijians.

“We know France is going to be a hell of a game,” coach Paul said.

“If you can win that, you’ve probably put yourself in a real good position to make the (final) eight.”

Fiji take on Wales at 7.37am on Sunday, Canada at 10.49am and France at 2.33pm.

The Canadian men’s 7s team want to make a statement early when they face France in their first match of the HSBC Canada Sevens tournament on Sunday morning.

This is crucial for the hosts as it will a morale booster for their second clash against the Fiji Airways Fijian 7s team. A win over the Fijians, just like they did last year could push them to the Cup quarterfinal.

France are ranked fourth midway through the 10-tournament series with 67 points, 26 back of front-running New Zealand.

France lost to New Zealand in the final of the Hamilton, New Zealand, tournament, and finished third in Cape Town.

“We know France is going to be a hell of a game,” Canada coach Henry Paul told Chronicle Journal.

“If you can win that, you’ve probably put yourself in a real good position to make the (final) eight.”

The Canadians have drawn into a difficult pool in the 16-team tournament.

Winger Phil Berna said the men come into the tournament hoping to prove something after coming close last weekend but failing to get the job done.

“We’ve talked about coming in with a bit of a chip on our shoulders and just making sure that we attack every opposition,” said the Vancouver native.

Canada rode a roller-coaster last weekend in L.A. The Canadians opened the tournament with a close 17-12 loss to Ireland, then where pounded by 33-5 by South Africa before putting together lopsided wins over Kenya, Scotland and Spain.

They had to settle for 10th place after losing a 21-19 heart-breaker to Argentina with no time remaining.

MISTAKES

Veteran Nathan Hirayama said mistakes in the losses to Ireland and Argentina cost Canada a better finish.

“We had the opportunity in two games to kind of put it away,” he said.

“We lost in the death in both of those games. If you’ve been around long enough, you know that happens. It sucks, but we gave ourselves opportunities to win. That’s how it goes sometimes.

“Hopefully we’re on the other side of the ball this weekend.”

The 31-year-old fly-half from Richmond, B.C., is only the third player in history to surpass 1,800 points.

“It’s cool but that’s not my main priority,” he said.

“When I started playing on this team I’d be pumped if I scored one point. I’m lucky to have played for this long with a great group of guys.”

IMPROVING

Canada comes into the Vancouver tournament ranked 10th overall. The men opened the season with a ninth-place performance in Dubai before finishing 11th in Cape Town, a season-best fifth in Hamilton, and 10th in Sydney.

Paul is happy with the team’s progression.

“We’ve slowly, steadily been improving.

“In L.A., we didn’t have the ball for six and half minutes against Ireland. There’s not much you can do if you can’t get the ball back.

“We learned a lot. We want to use those last few games to prepare us for this tournament.”

Canada have the ability to score points but defence remains a concern.

“To win tournaments you’ve got to defend,” said Paul.

“That’s the area where we’ve got penalties. We’re still trying to get a handle on what the referees want in terms of a high tackles.

“A lot of what is happening against us is probably our own fault.”

VIRUS CONCERN

The Canada Sevens tournament will be played at B.C. Place Stadium at the same time other sports events around the world are being cancelled or postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

“It is a big concern,” said Paul. “We’re getting daily updates for every country.

“It’s really serious and we’re taking it seriously. We’re washing our hands, we’re doing all the right things. Our medical and our support staff are great.

“There’s a concern but we still try and get on with it.”

There are fears that the spread of the coronavirus could delay or even postpone this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo. Both the men’s and women’s sevens teams have qualified for the Games.

“You can’t control what you can’t control,” said Hirayama.

“There’s nothing we can do about it other than prepare the best we can for it.

“That will take care of itself. Whatever happens, happens.”

Edited by Osea Bola

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.




5SQRS Clearance


Fijisun E-edition
Total
Subscribe-to-Newspaper
Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper