Canada's Connor Braid breaks tackle during the Olympic men's rugby.Mark Blinch/COC
Mark Blinch/COC

Canadian men’s rugby team proud of bounce back on Day 4, effort in quarterfinal

After opening their first Olympic tournament with two losses on Day 3, the Canadian men’s rugby team took to the pitch on Day 4 ready for business. Veteran Connor Braid led the way, scoring three of Canada’s six tries against the host country Japan.

It was Canada right out of the tunnel, who showed they were eager to put their losses to Great Britain and Fiji behind them. Getting off to a quick start, Braid powered through the Japanese defence with two quick tries, before Theo Sauder extended the Canadian lead to 19-0 before the end of the first half.

Japan closed the gap to start the second half with a try of their own but it was Canada’s game as Braid completed his hat trick, before Phil Berna and Justin Douglas added tries of their own, taking the victory 36-12 inside Tokyo Stadium.

Co-captain Nathan Hirayama admitted yesterday that their performance on opening day was disappointing and they needed to come out strong today to keep their tournament chances going. They did just that against Japan, setting up a matchup against New Zealand in the quarterfinal.

“It was about doing the little things right, get ball, keep ball,” said Braid following Canada’s win against Japan. “Sevens is a tough game especially when you don’t have the ball as a defensive unit. Possession was key for us, we knew we had to win, knew we had to score points to give us a shot, the boys did that and we executed the game plan right.”

“We’re not the fastest or biggest team, but we’ve got great skills and great athletes all-around the park so just continuing to keep possession so we can set those phases up and eventually break teams.”

After taking time to let their win sink in, the quarterfinals quickly approached against an undefeated New Zealand team. The first place New Zealand team got off to early 21-0, but the Canadians fought to the very end. Pat Kay put Canada on the board before co-captain Harry Jones broke through the New Zealand defence for Canada’s second try. It would not be enough as Canada loses 21-10.

“It’s a wild game full of weird bounces and weird calls, that’s why it’s so exciting,” said Jones after the quarterfinal match. “To bounce back like that today against Japan, the home team, they’re fired up, I’m really proud of the effort by the boys and that’s what got us through to the quarterfinal.”