The Canadian men’s rugby team did a lot of big things right, but enough little things wrong to lose their opening two games Saturday at the HSBC Canada Sevens rugby tournament at BC Place Stadium.
In their second match against South Africa, Canada trailed 12-0 at half time then battled back for a 14-12 lead off tries from David Richard and Cooper Coats before losing 19-14. Coats kicked two converts.
“We’re gutted man, we’re so disappointed with that loss,” said Thiel, who, along with Captain Phil Berna, is one of the few veterans remaining on the young Canadian team.
“The boys showed so much heart out there.”
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A total of 10 veterans retired from the sevens team that finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics.
Canada played strong defense against South Africa but had trouble with their throw-ins on several line outs and also coughed up the ball a couple of times.
“Simple mistakes but that’s one of the best teams in the world,” Thiel said. “We hung with them. We scared them. We scared Australia.”
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Bern said the Canadians could not maintain the early momentum they built against Australia.
“We have to close out games like that and learn to manage it better,” he said. “That’s kind of the thing with a young team. Things kind of get away from you sometimes. I’m proud of how we started there.”
Russell said Australia is a quality side that took advantage of Canadian mistakes.
“It’s our own mistakes we’ve got to fix,” he said. “We’ve got the talent, we can score tries. We’ve just got to finetune things now.”
Stiff competition for Canadians
Canada drew into a tough pool with South Africa, Australia and Spain in the 16-team tournament. The Canadians needed at least one upset Saturday if they hoped to stay in the fight for Sunday’s final.
The top two teams from each pool advance.
Organizers hope to attract around 20,000 fans for each day of the tournament.
Among the colorful and imaginative costumes Saturday were a group of penguins, several pink pigs, some Teletubbies, the Seven Dwarfs complete with long gray beards, workmen in pink hard hats and vests, angels of various sizes, the whole Flintstone family and various furry creatures , many with drinks in their paws. A group of green aliens danced with some astronauts in white suits.
South Africa leads the standings with 98 points after winning the first four tournaments. Australia and Argentina are tied for second with 83 points. Spain is ninth with 36 points.
Canada’s best result this year was losing in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Malaga, Spain. In the following two tournaments in Seville and last week in Singapore, Canada won just one of 11 games.
Richard, who missed parts of the last two years due to a knee injury, has seen steady improvement on the team.
“We’re a young team and we’re definitely building,” he said. “Each game I feel like we’re getting just a little bit better, learning a little bit more.
“I feel like it’s trending in the right direction.”
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