Canada claim Pan Am Games Sevens title
By Frankie Deges, in Guadalajara
Rugby Sevens came of age in the Americas with the closing sporting event of the XVI Pan American Games being the gold medal match in which Canada beat Argentina 26-24 to take the first Rugby Sevens Gold Medal.
Conor Trainor, fresh from a superb Rugby World Cup, was again instrumental for his side with two intercept tries in the final.
"It is great for us to achieve the goal of a Gold Medal," said Canadian coach Geraint John. "It means we will be the defending champions going into the next Pan American Games in Toronto 2015.
"Not only that, we also beat two core teams for the HSBC Sevens World Series and that is always important."
With regards to try hero Trainor, the coach said: "He is an intelligent player and he took his chances with the intercept tries."
Environmental Engineering student Trainor downplayed his role in the win. "It was a 12-man squad that won the medal. Nathan Hirayama kicked very well, so we owe him a lot as well.
"I took my chances for the two tries. I've had two incredible months, with the World Cup and now this. But it is back to school on Tuesday," he smiled.
The Pan American Rugby Sevens final was all that was expected from such a superb tournament. Argentina and Canada had been the strongest sides and when they met, that Canada won by only two points confirmed this point.
Argentina drew first blood, but the Canadians were very efficient for their first try – John Moonlight touching down in the corner. Nathan Hirayama converted with a very difficult kick, which, eventually, proved the difference.
Argentina led at the end of the first half with a second try, but in the second half two tries changed the course of the game. After scoring a brace against the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup, Trainor intercepted a loose pass to score under the posts.
Argentina then overcomplicated a lineout and again Trainor, a centre in fifteens and a forward in sevens, ran 50 yards for the try that seemed to have clinched the game, at 26-19 and seconds to go.
But after the hooter, and Argentina scoring in the corner, it came down to kicker Gutiérrez Taboada. His angled kick failed and Canada celebrated an historic 26-24 win.
Bronze for USA
USA took the bronze medal after beating Uruguay 21-17 with a try after the hooter had gone in what was an enthralling final day of competition.
The first rugby medal in the Pan American Games went to the team coached by Al Caravelli, who collected the bronze. In a physical game, it wasn’t until after the hooter that the game was won. Uruguay was unable to control the speed of test-winger Zack Test who ran forty yards to score unopposed under the post. That try, his team’s third, saw the North Americans take the Bronze Medal.
Eight teams from the two IRB Regional Associations in the continent – four from South America’s CONSUR and four from North America’s NACRA – competed over two days and gave the biggest crowd in the history of Mexican rugby – some 5,000 spectators over two competition days – a glimpse of what of the game of Rugby Sevens can bring to multi-sports events.
“It is very good for rugby to have been part of the Pan American Games as it is an eye-opening experience not only for our players, but also so that we can better understand how multi-sport events work,” said IRB Sevens Manager Beth Coalter in giving the tournament the thumbs-up.
The cosy Tlaquepaque Stadium had many very competitive matches on day two; some of which were decided by the smallest of margins. Canada and USA extended their rivalry and their semi-final match was another cracking one. To reach that stage, USA beat Guyana 24-12 and Canada overpowered the well-supported local team 45-0.
Against the USA, the Canadians - coached by Geraint John – scored three converted tries whilst a young USA team scored an equal amount of tries but missed the first conversion which proved decisive.
On the other side of the draw, Argentina had an early rise to open the day’s match list with a 21-5 win against Chile and in the semi-final beat the Uruguayans who had narrowly beaten Brazil 7-0, thanks to a Gastón Albanell try, converted by Agustín Ormaechea.
Sevens' Olympic growth
On the lower side of the draw, Mexico bounced back from the seven-try loss against the Canadians to beat Guyana. The match was heading to a 7-7 draw and sudden death extra time before Alejandro Chavez, who had only been on the field for a minute, scored under the posts.
Chile had to work hard for their 19-14 win against the Brazilians but the defeat proved a catalyst for Brazil who, with Rio de Janeiro 2016 poised to welcome back Rugby, won their final game against Guyana, 26-7 to avoid the last place.
“It is impossible to imagine how much the game will grow in the future with inclusion in the Olympic Games,” said 25-year old Felipe Claro. “Just being in the Pan American Games opened a new world to us and the growth the game will have in our country is something we very much look forward to.”
Chile then went on to finish fifth, beating Mexico 22-0.
Argentina 21 – Chile 5
Uruguay 7 – Brazil 0
USA 24 – Guyana 12
Canada 45 – Mexico 0
Fifth to Eighth
Chile 19 – Brazil 14
Mexico 14 – Guyana 7
Seventh place play-off
Brazil 26 – Guyana 7
Fifth place play-off
Chile 22 – Mexico 0
Argentina 17 – Uruguay 5
Canada 21 – USA 19
USA 21 – Uruguay 17
Canada 26 – Argentina 24
Gold Medal: Canada
Silver Medal: Argentina
Bronze Medal: USA
- South Africa
- New Zealand