(Via World Rugby)
Former New Zealand captain Karl Te Nana has seen a few things on the sevens circuit over the years but not even he could have predicted the final match-up of USA v Canada, much less a first tournament win for the Canadians.
Yet the HSBC Singapore Sevens was a weekend full of shocks, especially on day two when heavyweights like Fiji, South Africa and New Zealand all exited the main stage after the quarter-finals.
“Singapore once again continues to surprise – last year we had first time winners Kenya and this year we have Canada.
“In the quarter-finals we had all the big dogs going out. It’s very hard to back up after Hong Kong and Singapore has shown that you have to be top of your game and able to back it up. It’s good to see that these other nations are up there.”
Willie Los’e thinks the depth of teams like USA and Canada is growing.
“You can’t just rely on your starting seven. The depth that you have in your squad is really important. The thing that really stood out for me in Singapore is how many new faces were introduced. They put their hand up and showed that they deserve to be on the international stage.”
Los’e feels the senior players for Canada were instrumental to the win at the National Stadium on Sunday evening in Singapore.
“I think John Moonlight, Nate Hirayama and Justin Douglas for Canada have been the standout players this weekend. They’ve always had the promise, they’ve shown a lot and have been around the circuit for a long time as well. I think the senior players really dominated and owned Singapore and that’s what won it for Canada.
“I think it’s wonderful for the game. An all North-American final; who would have ever thought or dreamed that?! It’s only going to get better because that is a growth area and there’s going to be young boys or girls in North America thinking that they can go to the Olympics in the next ten years and we can’t wait to see it.”
Te Nana added: “You can’t forget Mike Fuailefau and Justin Douglas who have been absolutely outstanding. I think there has been a shift in this Canadian team and there’s been a culture buy-in within the group. They do have the squad to be able to compete and they’ve developed massive confidence.”
So, with two tournaments left on the circuit, can South Africa stay the course to claim a series win?
“You look at last year where Samoa and Scotland won the last two tournaments,” said Los’e. “But can South Africa hold on? Yes, I think there is too much class in Neil Powell’s team and they’ve worked too hard for them to let it go at this stage.”
Te Nana agrees.
“The Blitzboks got a fast start in Dubai and Capetown and they have been the most consistent team and I don’t think they’ll drop it – they’ve been overdue a series win.”
Roll on Paris.