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Canadian men’s rugby sevens coach Henry Paul takes young team to Dubai

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Canada’s rugby sevens coach Henry Paul is no stranger to Dubai, having played, trained and lived there.

This knowledge will be useful. With 10 members of the program having retired in recent months and a handful more sidelined with injury, the squad he took there for Friday kick-off of the 2022 season. of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series will learn as you go.

They’re a really young and exciting team, said New Zealand-born Paul, who has represented both New Zealand and England (through his grandfather) on the international stage.

It’s a team that will make mistakes. But the good thing is that they seem to learn quickly from these mistakes.

There are plenty of holes to fill.

Co-Captains Nate Hirayama and Harry Jones as well as Justin Douglas, Connor Braid, Mike Fuailefau, Lucas Hammond, Isaac Kay, Matt Mullins, Conor Trainor and Adam Zaruba have all retired

Captain Phil Berna, Pat Kay, Brennig Prevost, Anton Ngongo, Sion Griffiths, Matt Oworu, David Richard and Alex Russell are injured. Berna and Kay were both part of the squad that finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics.

Two promising young players, Matt Percillier and Jack Carson, are back in college.

In Dubai, the Canadian men will play in Pool A with Olympic champions Fiji, Australia and France. The Canadians are in a group with Olympic bronze medalist Fiji, Great Britain, Ireland and Russia.

I am delighted to see them play, Paul said of his young team. We have nothing to lose in Dubai. We have everything to gain, in terms of experience and exposure for these guys.

Rugby sevens coach Henry Paul is shown in this handout image during Canada's training session at BC Place Stadium on March 4, 2020 in Vancouver.

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 men’s season was reduced to two events in Vancouver and Edmonton in September, with several top teams unable to compete due to travel restrictions linked to the pandemic.

South Africa won both stages, with a young Canadian team placing sixth and fourth.

Dubai hosts the first two events of the 2022 season. The first will be played behind closed doors at Sevens Stadium. The second event, on December 3 and 4, will once again welcome spectators.

Men from New Zealand and Samoa will miss both events in Dubai due to travel issues linked to the pandemic.

Canada’s 13-player roster has competed in 65 combined World Series events. Jake Thiel (19 events), Josiah Morra (16) and Andrew Coe (15) have 50.

Thiel, Coe and Theo Sauder (five events) are the only Canadian Olympians in Dubai.

Four members of the Dubai team will make their World Series debuts. Three others participated in only one tournament, while another participated in two.

On the other hand, the British roster totals 283 tournaments. And the South African Branco du Preez has played 75 tournaments, which translates into 380 appearances and 1,355 points scored.

Brock Webster and Lachlan Kratz join the seven-a-side after being with the Canadian team at 15 for the November tour games against Portugal and Belgium. Cooper Coats returns with a broken finger as Thiel leads the team in Bernas’ absence.

The Canadians faced off against the United States before flying to Dubai.

We made a ton of mistakes, but it was such a good learning curve for a bunch of kids (the Americans) had a ton of Olympians playing, Paul said. It wasn’t pretty on our side, but in terms of growth and learning it was huge before (Dubai).

South Africa have won 12 straight games, winning the September events in Vancouver and Edmonton. A free kick in the group stages and a win in the quarter-finals would see the Blitzboks tie their streak of 16 consecutive wins in 2008-09.

There are nine men’s and six women’s events on the schedule for the 2022 season. It could grow with World Rugby saying it is considering potential options for a replacement event for Hong Kong.

The program includes a men’s stopover in Vancouver, February 26-27, and a women’s tournament in Langford, British Columbia, April 30-May 1.

Great Britain will compete in Dubai before England, Scotland and Wales return to the World Series,

The 16 men’s base teams after the Dubai events are Canada, Argentina, Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Samoa , Scotland, South Africa, Spain, United States and Wales.

There will be a new scoring system for the 2022 season due to the pandemic, with not all teams being able to participate in every event. The top seven male and four female results for each team will contribute to their final series ranking, with the number of contributing results increasing if a replacement event for Hong Kong is added.

List of Canada

Theo Sauder, Vancouver, Vancouver Rowing Club; Jake Thiel, Abbotsford, BC, Abbotsford RFC; Nick Allen, North Vancouver, Capilano RFC; Andrew Coe, Markham, Ont., Rugby United New York; Cody Nhanala, Ottawa, Ottawa Ospreys; Josiah Morra, Toronto, Saracens of Toronto; Brock Webster, Uxbridge, Ont., Oshawa Vikings; Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars RFC; DShawn Bowen, Toronto, single persons; Lachlan Kratz, Victoria, Or NOLA; Elias Ergas, Vancouver, UBC Thunderbirds; Thomas Isherwood, Okotoks, Alta, Foothills Lions RFC; Jarvis Dashkewytch, Tsawwassen, BC, UVIC Vikes.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 24, 2021

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