Canada won two of three games, including a memorable upset of Australia, but failed to advance to the Cup quarter-finals at the inaugural HSBC Canada Sevens rugby tournament Saturday.
The Canadian men, ranked 12th in the overall season standings, bounced back from an opening loss to No. 13 Wales with a 14-12 win over No. 4 Australia. After Australia thumped Wales 49-14, that left Canada needing to beat No. 15 Russia by 30 points in the last Pool B game of the day to make the final eight.
It looked good as the Canadians led 24-5 with some four minutes remaining. But the Russians scored a late try and Canada fell just short of the required margin of victory at 29-12 before a loud crowd at B.C. Place Stadium.
'This is a game of tiny margins, huge heartache.' - Canadian men's rugby coach Liam Middleton on his team failing to advance to quarter-finals despite 2-1 record
It's the second time in six events this season that Canada has been denied advancing to the Cup quarter-finals on a tiebreaker.
"This is a game of tiny margins, huge heartache. The effort these guys put in to come close and lose out can be heartbreaking," said Canadian coach Liam Middleton.
"It really is a brutal game," echoed Canadian captain John Moonlight.
The Canadians lived and died by the sword Saturday, with their games against Wales and Australia decided by tries with no time remaining.
"Two wins should be enough to get you through," lamented Middleton.
No. 1 Fiji, No. 2 South Africa and No. 3 New Zealand all finished the day at 3-0-0. There will be joined in the Cup quarter-finals Sunday by Australia, the fifth-ranked Americans, No. 10 Scotland, No. 11 Samoa and Wales.
It will be Fiji versus the U.S., South Africa versus Wales, New Zealand versus Samoa and Australia versus Scotland.
Canada in consolation quarters
Instead of joining them, Canada will face Brazil, an invitational team, in the consolation Bowl quarter-finals.
The Canadians put themselves behind the 8-ball in dropping their opener 26-19 to Wales on a last-second try after leading 14-0. That essentially meant it had to beat Australia, a team it had only beaten three times in 42 previous meetings on the circuit.
The Canadians did just that thanks to an Adam Zaruba try and Nathan Hirayama conversion with no time left on the clock.
Zaruba, who stands six foot five and weighs 265 pounds, bulled his way over for the decisive try against Australia as the crowd roared him on.
Russia was hammered 43-5 by Wales and 52-0 by Australia in the other early Pool B matches.
Local boy Harry Jones finished the Australia game with a broken nose after a high tackle and also played against Russia, despite a swollen, bent beak.
The 28,000-lower bowl at B.C. Place was sold out, with another 5,000 seats available in the upper bowl. Organizers expect a total crowd of 63,000 over the two days.
Saturday marked the first World Series event held indoors, with the roof closed at B.C. Place due to the drizzle outdoors.
The rain did not stop fans from lining up more than an hour before kickoff. When the action started, there were the sounds of bagpipes from the stands as Scotland played South Africa.
Canada lost Sean Duke to a back injury after the Wales games.
Canada's Maple Leafs Red team defeated France 17-5 to win the inaugural Vancouver Rugby Fest elite women's division.