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Canada men and women both perfect so far at NACRA Sevens

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Associated Press
8/25/2012 5:48:41 PM
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OTTAWA -- Canada put on a dominant performance Saturday to open the North American Caribbean Rugby Association Sevens Championships.

Both the men's and women's sides were a perfect 3-0 after Day 1 of the two-day competition that determines who qualifies for the Sevens World Cup in Moscow next June.

The men opened the event at the Twin Elm Rugby Park with a 41-0 win over Bermuda, then routed the Bahamas 33-5 before finishing their day with a 43-0 win over Mexico.

The women didn't concede a single point, winning 62-0 over Mexico, 50-0 over the Cayman Islands and 45-0 over Jamaica, which were previously undefeated.

Brian Hunter, manager of the men's side, said the lopsided games allowed him to give more playing time to his bench players.

"We've got some young guys that we want to get into the mix and everyone has played solid so we're happy so far," said Hunter. "There's definitely work to be done though. We started getting away from our game plan in the second game, but it's been addressed and will be corrected."

Hunter says anything less than an appearance in the men's final Sunday will be a huge disappointment. Not only will that allow them to qualify for the World Cup, but help them build towards Rio in 2016 when sevens will make its Olympic debut.

"Every tournament we get in allows us more development time building towards 2016 in Rio," Hunter said. "It gives these guys a chance to showcase themselves to the coaches."

So while the men corrected minor glitches along the way, the women suffered a loss in personnel as Karen Paquin is done for the weekend following an eye injury.

"The rest of the way will be a little bit more difficult now with only 11 (players), but that will give an opportunity for some other girls to play a little more," women's coach John Tait said.

"We knew coming in that we were favourites so the goal has always been to execute and I think we've done that. Winning is priority one but we're also using this as a chance to assess some of our younger players."

The women have one round robin game left and that will be against Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday morning. The playoff rounds for both the men and women follow that, but for the women the next game is the most important one.

"We don't look too far ahead. If you do you miss the things that are going on right now," Canadian captain Jen Kish said.

"We treat each match as if it were a championship match because these teams rarely get to play Canada and we know that they're treating it that way as well. We want to respect the opposition as much as we can because Canada in not an arrogant team. We're just going to keep focusing on us and get the outcome we want because there's no other option."

The women will need to wait for some other round robin games Sunday to see who they will play in the semifinals.

Canada leads the way at 3-0 followed by Jamaica (2-1), Trinidad & Tobago (1-2), Mexico and the Cayman Islands which are both 0-2.

On the men's side, the USA (2-0) won Pool A and will face the Bahamas (1-2) in the first quarter-final Sunday morning. That game will be followed by the second quarter-final featuring Mexico (2-1) against Guyana (2-1).

Canada topped Pool B and will play the third quarter-final against Barbados, which lost its final round-robin game 17-0 to Trinidad & Tobago.

Had Barbados won that game they would have finished atop Pool C and taken on Jamaica in the fourth quarter-final. Instead, Trinidad & Tobago jumped from third to first in the pool and they will now face Jamaica.

St. Vincent & The Grenadines, along with Bermuda and the Cayman Islands were all winless Saturday.

Rugby Canada (Photo: Rugby Canada)

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(Photo: Rugby Canada)
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