Feature photo: Nate Hirayama of Canada (Derek Stevens via Rugby Canada)
What a weekend it was in Vancouver!
Canada won five matches (and lost only one), including upsetting powerful Australia at the first-ever World Rugby Sevens Series stop at home, but because of the beautiful-yet-frustrating, tournament-within-a-tournament rules, finished ninth overall as bowl champions (more on how that works here).
In seven images, let’s relive a historic Canadian rugby weekend:
It’s safe to say Canadians embraced international rugby at home, showing up in record numbers – over 60,000 in two days – to BC Place in Vancouver. The series stays in Canada at least through the next three seasons.
Welcoming the world
The event welcomed 16 nations to Vancouver, with a full day of round-robin competition on Saturday. Canada was grouped with Australia, Russia and Wales, finishing the day with a 2-1 record, only narrowly losing to Wales in the final seconds of their first match causing them to finish out of the cup competition.
Catch them if you can
Blink and you might have missed Perry Baker of the United States. With eight tries, Baker was the top try scorer of the tournament. While Baker was a stand-out scorer this weekend, he wasn’t the only one. Nate Hirayama closely trailed him scoring six tries for Canada. Over the course of two days, 272 tries and 167 conversions were made for a total of 1,694 points scored on Canadian turf by all competitors.
Tackling the playoffs
There was no shortage of entertainment and fast-paced play for the fans. After an exciting day one, teams moved onto an action-packed playoff round in day two in cup (top eight) and bowl (bottom eight) competitions.
Leaving it all on the field
On day two Canada beat Brazil 19-0 in the bowl quarterfinal, later advancing to the bowl final after taking England 17-7 in the semifinal. Canada faced France in its Vancouver finale where Nate Hirayama, Harry Jones, and John Moonlight scored Canada’s points. Moonlight made a tremendous last dive over the try line to tie up the match, followed by Hirayama completing the conversion to secure the bowl for Canada 19-17 over France.
Sam Dickson, Kurt Baker and Lewis Ormond scored tries as New Zealand edged South Africa 19-14 to win their third cup title of the season and the inaugural Canada Sevens. The All Blacks, South Africa and Fiji are all early favourites to land the inaugural men’s Olympic sevens gold in Rio this summer. Canada will look to qualify for the men’s competition in June.
As electric as the atmosphere was in BC Place, rugby fans know the significance of the Haka and fell silent to watch the New Zealand squad perform it. This war dance is a display of the tribe’s pride, strength, and unity, and was the perfect end to a fantastic first Canada Sevens.
Watch the Haka below: