Commonwealth Games: Canada bounced by Scotland in rugby sevens
Canadians out of medal contention
Canada's hopes for a medal in rugby sevens at the Commonwealth Games came to an end with a 21-5 loss to Scotland on Saturday.
Connor Braid scored the lone try for the Canadians, who needed to win to be in the mix for the medals on Sunday.
Lee Jones, Richie Vernon and Mark Bennett scored for Scotland in front of a raucous crowd at Ibrox Stadium — normally home to Rangers F.C.
The Canadians had split their games earlier in the day, losing 39-0 to defending champion New Zealand, then bouncing back to run roughshod over Barbados 68-5, to set up the dramatic battle against Scotland.
Braid muscled his way across the try line in the first half, but it would the Canadians' only points as Scotland had Canada pinned in its own half for most of the game.
New Zealand had already clinched top spot in Pool A — arguably the toughest pool in the tournament with three of the world's core teams in Canada, the Scots and themselves — with their victory over Canada and a 17-14 win over Scotland.
The Canadians knew they were in for a stiff test against the Scots in the rowdy jam-packed Ibrox Stadium.
"Home ground, 50-odd thousand people here roaring for them, so it will be massive," coach Kieran Crowley had said.
He wasn't wrong. The noise was deafening when the two teams walked onto the pitch to ACDC's "Thunderstruck." They clapped and stomped their feet and broke into spontaneous chants of "Scot-land!" They booed when a call went Canada's way.
Canada and Scotland are familiar foes, the Canadians edging the Scots in the semifinals of the IRB World Sevens World Series stop in Glasgow earlier this season. Canada went on to make history by reaching the final for the first time, only to be trounced 54-7 by New Zealand in the final.
Still, the Canadians finished a best-ever sixth on the series, while Scotland was 12th.
Canada took the field after an eight-hour break between games, something the team wasn't pleased about.
"We went through the channels to put complaints in about it," Crowley said. "And in the end it came down to TV scheduling and things like that which is not the ideal thing as far as we're concerned.
"A couple of other teams are in the same boat as us. They're not going to change it, it is what it is, we've got to deal with it."
The Canadians, who had been at the storied stadium since shortly after 7 a.m. to begin warmup, remained there all day rather than return to the athletes village. Large tents with mattresses had been assembled behind the stadium.
"We talked about it before coming to the tournament, how we're going to rest and recover," Jones said. "Brought some board games, might have a quick nap just to kill the time.
"The biggest thing is not to turn off too much, obviously we didn't show up in that first game, and that was a bit wakeup call and we can't do that again."
Board game of choice: Settlers of Catan.
In Canada's win against Barbados, John Moonlight, Mike Scholtz and Ciaran Hearn scored two tries apiece, while Braid, Nathan Hirayama, Harry Jones and Justin Douglas each scored one. Hirayama was good on all six conversions and Braid booted three.
They were no match for the mighty New Zealand All-Blacks in the opening game of the tournament. The bigger and faster All-Blacks thoroughly dominated the Canadians, swatting away their tackle attempts like they were brushing away pesky flies.
"Our own defence and penalties let us down," Braid said. "We had systems in place but we fell apart when it came time. Whether it was jitters or not, we have to make sure that stuff's gone. . ."
DJ Forbes and Ben Lam scored two tries apiece for the All-Blacks, while Bryce Heem, Tim Mikkelson and Akira Ioane had one each.
New Zealand is gunning for its fifth gold medal in rugby sevens, having won the title all four times the sport has been in the Games.
Rugby sevens, which will make its Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, was touted as a sure highlight of the Commonwealth Games, played before packed crowds in the 51,000-seat storied Ibrox Stadium. More than 185,000 sevens tickets have been sold, including a sellout on Sunday.
The festive crowd cheered when Sean Ward scored Barbados' lone try against Canada, and then against New Zealand, they broke into chants of "Bar-ba-dos!" Barbados lost 59-0 to the powerhouse Kiwis, and the crowd gave Barbados a standing ovation for their effort.
They became Uganda fans when that country scored three tries in the final two minutes to beat Sri Lanka. The Uganda players ran towards the crowd with sheer delight after the game.