National Senior Men’s 7s rugby head coach Geraint John has named his squad for the opening Sevens World Series leg of 2012-13, which takes place on the Gold Coast in Australia.
The 12-man group released on Monday is an historic one for the Canucks as excitement builds for Canada’s inclusion as a core squad. Included is Courtenay’s Thyssen de Goede (who now plays for James Bay Athletic Association) back from an injury.
Along with Portugal and Spain, Canada join last year’s 12 core teams to take the number up to 15, which means they will now play in all nine Series legs.
Consequently, preparations stepped up a gear over the weekend as the team attended a training camp in Shawnigan Lake, where John was able to add the finishing touches to his squad for the challenge ahead, with Canada drawn in the same pool as Series holders New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.
Also present at the camp was 15s coach Kieran Crowley as one eye also gazes to the upcoming Americas Rugby Championship, which will be staged in Langford, B.C.
Selection for the Gold Coast event was subsequently tough for John, who has named four men who did not feature in the recent North American and Caribbean Rugby Association (NACRA) success. They are Justin Douglas, Lucas Hammond, Mike Fuailefau and de Goede with Sean White, Conor Trainor, Tyler Ardron and Connor Braid all missing out due to various reasons such as ARC and school commitments. Sean Duke and Phil Mack are included alongside Chauncey O’Toole, Harry Jones, John Moonlight, Ciaran Hearn, Jeff Hassler and captain Nanyak Dala.
“There were many other players who performed well at both camps which made selection difficult,” revealed John, with ex-internationals Pat Fleck and Jeff Williams having observed the recent training camp. “We have a busy schedule this October and November with not only 7s competitions taking place but also the Americas Rugby Championship and then November Tests against Samoa, Russia and NZ Maori. Therefore myself and Kieran Crowley have worked together very closely.”
“Some of the players are involved with the Americas Rugby Championship (Oct. 12, 16, 20) in preparation for November while others have school commitments as we are away for over eight weeks in the next three months. Therefore some players cannot take all that time off so priorities have to be made, which we understand is a reality here in Canada due to our players being of amateur status.”
Canada enters the World Series on the back of a triumphant NACRA final win over the USA, with Duke having scored the match-winning try in an event that saw John’s side take on the likes of Bermuda, Mexico, Bahamas and Barbados. Oct. 13-14 sees them tackle two of the 7s game’s powerhouses along with USA in the pools.
“Yes, we will face the number one side in the world and also South Africa, who have both won many competitions and are excellently coached,” continued coach John.
“However this is what everyone works hard for – to play against the best teams in the world and it’s why we enter these competitions. USA are also a difficult team with great athletes under the guidance of their new coach Alex Magleby. There’s no easy games in the Series – take Spain for example who now have twelve full-time contracted players. They qualified with us in becoming a core team and you have the other new core side, Portugal, who won the European World Cup qualifier.”
A testing challenge indeed but one that Canada’s coach and youthful squad are embracing with an air of excitement and hunger as a new era of 7s approaches.
“This is the start of everyone’s goal to get to Rio and we are no different to any other team. We want to get there and have to make sure we are prepared. Having three guys under the age of 20 in our squad shows also what we are doing – we need to keep developing these excellent young players we have in this country,” concluded John.
– Rugby Canada