Friday, February 5, 2010

Young Canada stun French, Argentinians

Taylor Paris needed a letter of consent from his parents to play in the IRB World Sevens Series.

The 17-year-old Canadian sevens player will need no such permission to tear into the cup quarterfinals at Westpac Stadium today.

Fairytales were in short supply on opening day of the NZI Sevens, but Canada's young side provided as close as it got.

With Paris and two 18-year-olds in the side, Canada were the lone voice for the underdogs after upsetting Argentina 26-7 and beating France 21-19 in pool play to earn a quarterfinal against England.

When Argentina bowed out with a 33-12 loss to Samoa in their final pool match, it sparked wild celebrations in the Canadian camp.

"This is huge for us," coach Morgan Williams said. "We went bowling yesterday and I tried to split them up into over-22 and under and realised the older team only had two players."

Williams, who played in Wellington a year ago, has chosen a young side with an eye to the 2016 Olympics and is thrilled how quickly the players have responded.

"We couldn't get a release of any of our pros this year, so we've gone for the future. Usually we don't get our athletes in rugby till they are 22-23 , so we want to develop talent from a younger age."

The Canadian team had to fund-raise to attend buildup tournaments.

Paris got a dream start in Wellington, scoring with his first touch of the ball in Canada's first-up win against Argentina.

The other emotional aside yesterday was the sight of sevens great Waisale Serevi coaching Papua New Guinea against his homeland.

As he was on the field, Serevi is humble as a coach and was quick to congratulate his countrymen after they had beaten his new charges 41-0.

For Papua New Guinea, it was a tough ask after being readmitted to the IRB series this year for the first time since 2006, but Serevi believes the raw talent is there to make a bid for the 2016 Olympics.

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