Duncan’s own Pat Kay was at the forefront as Canada’s national men’s rugby sevens team made history last weekend.
The 23-year-old Kay, who came up through the Cowichan Rugby Football Club and Cowichan Secondary School systems, has become a fixture with the Canadian squad, which won its first tournament ever on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series in Singapore on Sunday.
It hasn’t been an easy year for the national side, making the historic championship even sweeter.
“This team has been challenged immensely this year on and off the field,” Kay said in an email from Phuket, Thailand, where he and a few other teammates went for a break after the Singapore Sevens. “From bringing in a new coach to getting our Own the Podium funding [a major source of financial help from the government] completely cut.
“It’s an amazing feeling to accomplish something like this but even better to do it with this group of guys. We have a solid group here that has the potential to do something special in the coming two or three years. We have goals for next summer to medal at both the Commonwealth games in Australia and the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco, eventually leading in to the 2020 Olympic Games where we will still have to qualify.
“It’s an exciting time for us and we are so thankful for everyone that supports us.”
Canada started the Singapore Sevens strong on Saturday with a 28-15 win over Russia, then beat Hong Kong 34-0 before falling to Fiji 35-7.
Canada topped New Zealand 26-14 in the quarterfinals the next day to reach the semifinals. The semifinal saw Canada down England 17-5, setting up the final against the U.S. It was only the second time ever, through more than 140 tournaments, that Canada had reached a Sevens Series final, following a loss to New Zealand in the final of the 2014 Glasgow Sevens.
Canada stormed out to a 19-0 lead against the U.S. The Americans came back to tie the score, but Lucas Hammond scored with just over a minute left to give Canada a 26-19 lead that held up through the final whistle.
With the win, Canada moved into seventh place in the Sevens Series standings after eight tournaments, with stops in Paris on May 13-14 and London on May 20-21 remaining. Kay is fourth among Canadian players this season with 76 points, including eight tries over 35 matches.
The Canadian victory in Singapore comes at an good time for the Cowichan Rugby Football Club, which happens to be hosting a clinic this coming Sunday with national men’s sevens coach Damian McGrath and the Maple Leafs development team. The session is open to all North Island male players over the age of 17 and their coaches. To reserve a spot, email Brock Snobelen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mark Bryant at email@example.com