Rugby Canada’s men’s sevens team, along with Langford Mayor Stew Young (centre), show off the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup Championship. The team captured its first-ever cup trophy in Singapore earlier this year. The team returned to the Westin at Bear Mountain to celebrate the historic victory Tuesday. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Men’s sevens team celebrates historic victory

Langford-based team brings home trophy after first-ever championship win

John Moonlight still gets emotional when watching the final play before the men’s rugby sevens team won its first ever HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup championship.

Seeing Lucas Hammond score the game-winning try against the United States in Singapore in April is a moment Moonlight will never forget.

“It just means so much. We put a lot into it, we put our lives on hold. The chance to watch it again and have those same feelings, the emotion, you can see it on all of our faces,” said Moonlight, the team’s co-captain who started the program in 2008.

Harry Jones scores a try during Canada’s 26-19 victory over the U.S., to help the team capture its first HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series Cup Championship in Singapore earlier this year. (Martin Seras Lima photo)

“All that work we put in, all those hours at the gym, practicing on the field in the rain, it finally culminated in what we’ve wanted for so long.”

The men’s rugby sevens team, which is based out of Langford, had the chance to relive that historic moment as the team, along with coaches and staff, celebrated the milestone victory at the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa Tuesday.

But winning the team’s first championship in roughly 140 tournaments was not an easy feat.

The team defeated New Zealand 26-14 in the quarter finals, followed by England 17-5 in the semi-finals.

In the finals, Canada exploded out of the gates building a 19-0 lead as Matt Mullins, Harry Jones and Mike Fuailefau gave the team the lead. But that was short lived as the U.S. responded with two tries to cut the lead to 19-12 at the break. But it was Lucas Hammond who grabbed the biggest try in Canada’s men’s sevens history to lead the team to a 26-19 victory.

“It just shows how far we’ve come. Over the years, we’ve been known to lose those types of games … we just grinded it out, it wasn’t pretty, but we did it,” said co-captain Nathan Hirayama, whose parents were in Singapore for the win.

“Words can’t really describe it. It was really special.”

Up next, the team will be prepping for the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens series, which begins in Dubai Dec. 1 to 2 and is the first of 10 stops in the series, which also include stops in Cape Town, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Las Vegas, Vancouver and Hong Kong.

On top of the series, the men’s sevens team will also be competing in the Commonwealth Games in Australia April 13 to 15 and the World Cup Sevens in San Francisco in July.


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kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

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