Bronze medal win thrills Vancouver fans at Canada 7s series
Canada beat South Africa to claim the bronze medal in Vancouver
They thrilled us. They broke our hearts. They engaged us throughout and saved the best for last.
Team Canada drew us in and teased us. We, and they, dared to believe a podium finish was not only a possibility – but a probability. The hosts finally made an impression at their own party and for that we should be grateful.
The Canadians rose to the occasion. In what has been a largely forgettable campaign, this was a rare, bright beacon in the darkness. At last, a series of coherent, committed performances the home fans were eager to celebrate.
A quick start out of the gates erased the early errors in LA. The opening victory over France set the tone for the Canadians – always a friendly host but rarely a serious contender at four previous editions of its Canada Sevens.
WATCH | Canada wins bronze medal at Vancouver 7s:
Lighting strikes twice
Lightning struck twice against Fiji.
For the second year running on home turf, the Canadians seized the initiative and stood up to the fearsome Olympic champions. Hometown hero Theo Sauder twice forced his way over the Fijian line – surely the highlight of his rookie season.
No hint of complacency in the pool finale. Canada had essentially beaten Wales by halftime to ensure top spot. It was a clinical performance featuring five different Canadian try scorers. Multiple contributors will always put a smile on the coach's face.
WATCH | Canada upsets Fiji again:
Henry Paul's troops began day two the way they finished day one. A nerveless shutout of Spain propelled the Canadians into uncharted waters. A first-ever home semifinal served up nail biting drama for the exuberant fans at BC Place. Australia hung on as the hosts came within a whisker of forcing extra time.
3 years in the making
It has been nearly three years since Canada medalled at a World Sevens Series event. The wait is finally over. A sensational come from behind victory over South Africa embodied all that is best about this team when it plays to its potential.
Determination, bravery and commitment were just a few of the ingredients. Only a week ago, the Blitzboks demonstrated similar qualities to claim gold in LA. The Canadians took a leaf out of their opponents' book and refused to settle for second best.
Sauder was just one of many Canadians to catch the eye. Justin Douglas followed up his L.A. comeback with another impactful role. Harry Jones and Issac Kaay worked their socks off all weekend, and captain Nate Hirayama's medal winning dive into the corner will live long in the memory.
All glory to the All Blacks
The gold medal game was no less a treat.
New Zealand was pushed all the way by its arch rival Australia but the All Blacks had just enough in the tank to get over the line by a slender 3 point margin. It's their third win of the season – stretching their lead at the top of the standings.
WATCH | The gold medal game:
All's well that ends well.
The Canadians leave the stage with heads held high. They won a medal and brought a new relevance and sense of excitement to the Canada Sevens.
If they could bottle that and take it to Tokyo, who knows what may be in store at the Olympic Games.