March 11th and 12th saw the HSBC Rugby Sevens return to Vancouver, following last year’s successful inaugural outing. While the weather outside was not as cooperative, this did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm for the crowds inside BC Place. By the end of the weekend the record attendance of more than 76,000 people had witnessed 45 games of fantastic rugby, seen a few upsets along the way, and helped Dan Norton celebrate equally the most tries ever in the tournament.
Day 1, saw the 16 team play in a series of group matches to determine the ranking for the second day of the tournament. Despite few upsets on the day there were some memorable matches.
Highlights of the day included.
- The USA, spurred on by the speed of Perry Baker romped home to a 52-0 victory over Japan.
- Any time Fiji took the field the noise level went up a notch, there were more Fiji fans than for any other country excluding Canada, and they love their team.
- Canada had an awesome first day, opening their campaign with a solid victory against Scotland, followed by another against Russia, however they were narrowly defeated by the All Blacks in the last game of the day.
- The biggest upset of the day was Los Pumas of Argentina defeating Fiji 26-24 with a try and a conversion on the final play.
- England and South Africa, the weekend’s eventual finalists both won their first games, before tying 12-12 in their first face off of the weekend.
Day 2 saw the start of the playoffs for the final rankings for the tournament. The bottom 8 teams from Day 1 competing for the Challenge Trophy and the top 8 competing for the Cup.
Sadly for Canadian fans their run from the first day did not continue into the second day, with a solid defeat against South Africa in their first game of the day, and a narrower defeat at the hands of Argentina in the 5th place playoff.
South Africa then had a much harder task on their hands against the USA, in what was likely a battle of the two fastest teams on the tour. Tries by Rosko Specman and Philip Snyman, and a spectacular last minute intervention by Werner Kok allowed the Blitzbokke to advance by a narrow margin of 14-12.
England struggled a little in their match with New Zealand, and came out winners by 14-12, however, in a very unexpected display, they romped home by 40-7 over reigning Olympic champions Fiji.
While Wales saw off Samoa by 19-12 to win the Challenge Trophy, the best was saved until last, with England facing off against South Africa in the Cup Final. South Africa opened the scoring, but England tied the game up with a try and conversion on the final play in the first half. England opened up a little more space in the second half with tries from Dan Bibby, and then a second from the player of the tournament Dan Norton. This try took Dan to the top of the all-time try scoring leaderboard, tied with long time holder Collins Injera from Kenya.
Day 2 Highlights
Overall it was a great, but tiring experience, roll on 2018.
Aside from the action on the field there where some great fans in the stadium