Rugby 7s team set for Commonwealth Games
Rugby Canada on Thursday announced the team that will represent Canada at next month's Commonwealth Games in rugby sevens — a sport that was recently added to the Olympic program.
Canadian head coach Geraint John said he expects Canada to show well in a field full of international powers.
"Six of the seven players who started for us in the [consolation final] at the Hong Kong [Sevens World Series] tournament in March will be with us in Delhi. We won that final over Wales and we'll be carrying that momentum into the Commonwealth Games next month."
Designed to be faster-paced than the traditional version of the sport, rugby sevens features seven players on the field for each team instead of 15.
The smaller team sizes make it easier for more countries to compete with traditional rugby powers — a factor in the International Olympic Committee's decision to add the sport to the program for the 2016 Games in Rio.
Rugby sevens matches are also much shorter in duration, with halves lasting seven minutes instead of 40.
That means an entire tournament can be played over a weekend — the Commonwealth competition will be decided over just two days, Oct. 11 and 12, in New Delhi, India. The amount of scoring remains comparable to a full rugby match because there's more room for players to manoeuvre.
Canada has a men's and women's sevens team, but the Commwealth Games program includes only a men's competition.
As the lone representative from North and Central America and the Caribbean, Canada drew a tough group that includes three-time reigning champion New Zealand, as well as Scotland and Guyana.
South Africa heads Pool B, which also includes Wales, Tonga and host India. Samoa tops Pool C, joined by Kenya, Uganda and Papua New Guinea. Pool D features England, Australia, Namibia and Sri Lanka.
The Canadian team features several experienced veterans — led by captain Phil Mack of Victoria, Canada's top points scorer in the Sevens World Series this season with 125.
First-year man Thyssen de Goede, also from Victoria, impressed with four tries at the Hong Kong tournament.
The full Canadian roster for the Commonwealth Games is as follows:
- Nanyak Dala (Saskatoon).
- Thyssen de Goede (Victoria) .
- Sean Duke (Vancouver) .
- Ciaran Hearn (Conception Bay, N.L.).
- Nathan Hirayama (Richmond, B.C.).
- Phil Mack (Victoria).
- Ian Shoults (Calgary).
- Neil Meechan (Maple Ridge, B.C.).
- Justin Mensah-Coker (Vancouver).
- John Moonlight (Pickering, Ont.).
- Taylor Paris (Barrie, Ont.).
- Conor Trainor (Vancouver).