Canadian rugby sevens squad hopes gold will make...
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Jul 08, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

Canadian rugby sevens squad hopes gold will make up for Rio disappointment

United States didn’t fully end Canada’s rugby Rio dreams — there is a global repechage event next summer — but it made task harder

OurWindsor.Ca

The redemption will not be full for the Canadian men’s rugby sevens team at the Pan Am Games, yet a nice consolation prize dangles in front of them.

Robbed of a berth in the Rio Olympics by a loss to the United States in a qualification tournament last month in North Carolina, the chance to finish the season with a gold medal will at least allow them to head into the fall feeling a little bit better.

“I think if the season had ended at that time it would have been disappointing but we have this great opportunity here in Toronto being the host nation, being the current holders of the gold medal, an opportunity for us to go out and really inspire the game of rugby sevens in Canada,” head coach Liam Middleton said at a Pan Am news conference on Tuesday.

But as much as it might be inspirational to young athletes, defending the Pan Ams gold medal Canada won in 2011 in Guadalajara will assuage the feelings of the team members themselves.

Losing that last-gasp qualifying game to the United States didn’t fully end the team’s Rio dreams — there is a global repechage event next summer — but it made the task far more difficult.

“To cap off this year with a Pan Am gold deal, although we didn’t get what we wanted out of the qualifier in Raleigh, would be a decent consolation,” said veteran Sean Duke.

Canada, along with the United States and Argentina, are heavy medal favourites for the fast-paced sevens game in the tournament that runs Saturday and Sunday at the Pan Am park on the Exhibition grounds.

Joining Argentina, Brazil and Guyana in a preliminary-round pool, Canada could very well find itself against the Americans in Sunday’s gold medal game.

There will be less at stake than there was in the Olympic qualifying event but it will still be emotional. The Canadians hope it’s just not too over-the-top intense.

“Any Canadian sport, when it comes to the U.S. there’s a rivalry,” Pickering native John Moonlight said.

“For us, our keys are trying to take the emotions out of it because it’s always an emotional game, it doesn’t matter where we’re ranked in the series, it’s always a really tight game.”

Toronto Star

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