British Columbia

Meet the Canadians: Team Canada seeking 7s upset at BC Place this weekend

They're not favoured to win this weekend, but Team Canada will be looking for an upset in front of its hometown support.

Canada enters the weekend ranked 11th in the World Rugby 7s Series standings

Canada's Pat Kay scores a try as John Porch of Australia holds on during the 2018 Canada Sevens. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)

Canada's men's rugby 7s team can count on both a home field and home province advantage when it takes to the pitch on Saturday when it looks to pull an upset in front of the BC Place fans led by a West Coast-dominated roster. 

The Canadians enter the 4th edition of the Canada sevens tournament still looking to find their form this season, having finished 13th in last week's tournament in Las Vegas and in 11th place three other times this season. 

This weekend, they've been drawn into a strong Pool B against Samoa, Fiji and Kenya. 

"We're not that far away from a good result," said coach Damian McGrath, pointing out his side has missed out on the quarter finals by a single core three times this season.

"[It's] very fine margins in rugby sevens."

While the hosts won't be favourites to advance as one of the pool's top two finishers, the Canadians are hoping their home field advantage could help them spring an upset or two and earn their first-ever quarter-finals appearance in Vancouver. 

Here's who to watch for, and what you need to know about Team Canada.

Nathan Hirayama

Australia's Jesse Parahi tries to stop Canada's Nathan Hirayama from scoring a try during the 2018 Canada Sevens at BC Place in Vancouver. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)

The team's captain and star performer, Nathan Hirayama is also one of Canada's most accomplished players, having surpassed 1,600 career points, good for fourth all-time. The Richmond native was the top point scorer at last weekend's USA Sevens and is known for his field vision and passing. 

"It's been a frustrating new year for us, but I think there's a lot of positives we can take from the last tournament," he said. "We were really, really close on a few things." 

Connor Braid

Connor Braid of Canada fights for control of the ball with Francisco Berchesi of Uruguay during the 2018 Canada Sevens. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)

Braid is a physical powerhouse known for his on-field energy and speed. Braid had a strong tournament in Las Vegas last time out with 28 carries and 11 tackles and leads the team so far this season in tries scored with 14. 

"We're feeling good. And, with the home support, I'm sure we'll be we ready to roll on Saturday."

Mike Fuailefau

Mike Fuailefau of Canada tries to get past Diego Ardao of Uruguay during the 2018 Canada Sevens tournament. (Jonathan Hayward / The Canadian Press)

The son of a Samoan international player, Fuailefau is now over 200 matches and 55 tries scored for Canada's international sevens team. 

Admir Cejvanovic

Canada's Admir Cejvanovic, front, is tackled by Brazil's Gustavo Albuquerque during the 2016 Canada Sevens tournament. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

Bosnian-born, but Burnaby-raised, Cejvanovic began playing the sport after fleeing conflict in his home country. Now a mainstay of the sevens national team, he's also played for Canada's 15-a-side team. 

Adam Zaruba

Canada's Adam Zaruba, left, fights off Australia's Stephan van der Walt during a rugby sevens match in 2016. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Zaruba's one-handed catch-and-score play against Wales went viral in 2016. The North Vancouver native played in a pre-season game at tight end for the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles in 2017 and joined the team's training camp again a year later before announcing a full-time return to sevens ahead of the start of this season. 

Full roster

Canada's schedule

All games Saturday. Sunday schedule TBA. Watch all games live on CBCSports.ca.

  • Canada vs. Samoa - 10:58 a.m. PT
  • Canada vs. Fiji - 2:08 p.m. PT
  • Canada vs. Kenya - 5:40 p.m. PT
Colourful crowds are part of the appeal of the Vancouver Sevens. (The Canadian Press)

About the Author

Matthew Black

@TheMatthewBlack

Matthew Black is a B.C.-based writer, producer and reporter. He writes mostly about sports and has worked for CBC in Toronto and Vancouver as well as abroad in London.

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