The IRB has confirmed the pools and draw for the Dubai leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, with Canada set to take on Australia, Wales and Scotland in their first event of the 2011-2012 season.
The draw for Dubai, the second event of the series, was announced at the Gold Coast Sevens, with a new system seeing teams reseeded after each competition.
Following the Gold Coast Sevens, Canada’s Dubai opponents are all ranked in the top 10 of the series, with Australia currently fourth, Wales fifth and Scotland 10th.
Canada’s men’s sevens coach Geraint John knows their opponents in Pool D will be tough, but is excited by the challenge it presents his young squad.
“You could say it’s the hardest pool in the tournament,” John said. “To go into the tournament with three teams that finished in the top 10 is a good opportunity for us to see where we’re at.”
John enters the tournament with a squad mixed with youthful fresh faces and some experienced players familiar with the game and Canada’s Dubai opponents.
Injury and unavailability due to school or club commitments ruled out several players for the tour, including some of Canada’s Rugby World Cup and Pan American Games players, but John saw this as an opportunity to develop depth.
This approach allowed John to bring in three members of Canada’s Youth Commonwealth Games side in Lukas Balkovec, Lucas Hammond and Conor McCann. Canadian 15-a-side representative Connor Braid is also set to make his debut in international sevens having been named to the squad for Dubai and Port Elizabeth.
In last year’s circuit, Canada met Australia, Scotland and Wales on several occasions, including a memorable 24-17 semifinal win over Wales in the lead up to claiming the Bowl championship in Hong Kong.
While their opponents are ranked well, John is comfortable knowing his side isn’t coming up against unknowns in its first stop of the series.
“These are probably the three teams we played the most consistently last year,” John said. “We played them regularly last year and the games were really competitive. Some results went our way and some went theirs.”
With a new season have come changes for the HSBC Sevens World Series, as the IRB announced a new seeding and points system for 2011-2012.
Following each tournament, teams will be reseeded in preparation for the next leg. In addition, the new scoring system will see all teams rewarded with points based on their performances from the semifinal stages onwards.
This is a change from the old system, which saw teams only awarded points for winning the bowl championship or competing in the cup and plate playoffs.
John hailed the changes, believing it will provide a better overview of the year’s performances.
“It gives the team a better indication of how they’ve performed over the year,” John said. “Now it will be a fairer representation of how each team did.”
The Dubai Sevens runs over two days, with pool play on Dec. 2 and playoffs Dec. 3.
The first day will see Canada face Australia at 9:42 a.m. (local time), Wales at 1:02 p.m. and Scotland at 4:46 p.m.
The Canadian national men's sevens side would like to thank presenting Sponsor Macquarie Financial and Associate Sponsor Trafigura.
Thanks also to the Canadian Rugby Foundation for the continued support of Canada's rugby sevens initiatives.
Canadian men's sevens squad - Dubai, Port Elizabeth
1. Lukas Balkovec (Kitchener, ON) (University of Western Ontario)
2. Connor Braid (Victoria, BC) (BC Bears)
3. Dustin Dobravsky (Regina, SK) (University of Victoria Vikes)
4. Sean Duke (Vancouver, BC) (BC Bears)
5. Lucas Hammond (Toronto, ON) (Toronto Nomads)
6. Ciaran Hearn (Conception Bay South, NL) (The Rock)
7. Nathan Hirayama (Richmond, BC) (BC Bears)
8. Phil Mack (Victoria, BC) (The Rock)
9. Conor McCann (Toronto, ON) (Ontario Blues)
10. John Moonlight (Pickering, ON) (Ontario Blues)
11. Beau Parker (Victoria, BC) (University of Victoria Vikes)
12. Sean White (Victoria, BC) (BC Bears)
Geraint John - Head coach
Kieran Crowley - Assistant coach
Brian Hunter - Manager
Ben Suen - Therapist
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