The unique spirit and character building values of rugby were on show today as 16 international captain’s attended the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver ahead of the HSBC Canada Sevens on 7-8 March.
While preparing for the sixth round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, which will be played in front of a near full house at the 40,000 capacity BC Place stadium, the captains took time out to visit the home for children who are undergoing treatment for serious medical conditions and bring a sense of joy and inspiration to the children and their families.
Canada Captain Nate Hirayama said: “Ronald McDonald House is a really special place where seriously sick children can come with their families and stay while they’re getting treatment at the hospital. It’s a fantastic place, they need our support and we are happy to do anything we can to help out so to have all the captain’s here and see the guys playing instruments and getting into the spirit is fantastic.”
Looking ahead to playing in front of a home crowd this weekend he added: “We are extremely excited, obviously this is always a big week for us and for Canadian rugby so the vibes and the nerves are already kicking in. We’re looking forward to it and it’s going to be another fantastic year for the Canada Sevens. It is amazing to play in front of the BC Place crowd with its incredible energy. Growing up we never thought anything like this could happen.”
The captain’s activity is part of a community engagement programme of ‘Impact Beyond’ legacy activities that is being run in the lead up to the HSBC Canada Sevens to connect with different sections of Vancouver society.
South Africa captain Stedman Gans was delighted to participate: “We have our Blitzboks mission statement ‘to inspire hope’ written on our jerseys and it is a privilege for me to be here representing our team, inspiring hope and giving a little bit of joy to these kids who have had bad experiences. I see it as a responsibility and an honour and I’ve enjoyed every single moment here.”
Turning to matters on the pitch he added: “We are looking forward to the Vancouver atmosphere, it’s a great stadium, I love playing here, it’s going to be electric under the roof and I can’t wait.”
Play will be split across two days with all pool games taking place on Saturday before the knock-out competition begins on Sunday.
The action gets under way at BC Place at 09:00 local time (GMT-8) on Saturday when USA and Samoa take to the field in a Pool D encounter.
South Africa arrive in Vancouver in confident mood following their stunning extra-time final victory over Fiji in Los Angeles last weekend and the Blitzboks line up in Pool A alongside England, Argentina and the invitational team Japan.
Pool B sees reigning Olympic Champions Fiji drawn with France, hosts Canada and Wales, who are currently occupying the relegation position and will be looking to pick up more points in the second half of the series.
Current Series leaders New Zealand are drawn in Pool C and will face Ireland, Span and Kenya, while Pool D consists of Australia, USA, Samoa and Scotland.
A limited number of tournament passes for both days and single day general admission tickets for Sunday remain available for purchase, visit www.canadasevens.com for more details.