A healthy Harry Jones looks to help Canada rugby sevens men impress on home soil

The Canadians finished 14th last year in Vancouver

Harry Jones knew it was time to get his shoulder fixed when it popped out while he was helping his brother put up some blinds.

“I was holding something for him and my shoulder slipped out,” recalled the Canadian rugby sevens veteran, who had been bothered by the injury since 2015. “It was just my arm getting in those awkward positions, then it would get fairly weak and slip out.

“When things like that are starting to happen, it’s fairly obvious I needed to have something done about it.”

The 29-year-old from West Vancouver, whose shoulder woes included a torn labrum, had surgery in late August in the wake of the Rugby World Cup Sevens. Essentially they cut off a piece of bone and screwed it into his shoulder socket to block the shoulder from being able to slip out.

The elegant Jones returned to action last weekend at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas and will be front and centre this weekend on home turf as the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series comes to Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium.

“It’s as though he’s never been away,” Canada coach Damian McGrath said of Jones’ form in Las Vegas. “He stepped back in seamlessly. There was no drop in performance.”

Canada, which stands 11th in the overall standings midway through the 10-event series, has been drawn in a pool with No. 3 Fiji, No. 7 Samoa and No. 13 Kenya. The goal is to finish in the top two of the pool so as to make the elite Cup quarterfinals.

Olympic champion Fiji won last year’s Vancouver event, beating Kenya 31-12 in the final. The Pacific Islanders won stops in Cape Town and Hamilton, New Zealand earlier this season.

In-form Samoa defeated Canada in pool play at Las Vegas, eventually losing 27-0 to the U.S. in the championship match.

Canada’s record against Fiji is 4-47-0 with the last Canadian win coming in December 2017 in Cape Town. The Canadians are 11-44-0 against Samoa and 23-15-1 against Kenya.

Organizers said Thursday more than 70,000 tickets have been sold. Capacity for the two-day event is just over 80,000. The event drew a total of 213,630 spectators in its first three years on the circuit.

“It’s absolutely electric,” Jones said of the home atmosphere.

READ MORE: Canada rugby sevens men open play in Las Vegas with one eye on Vancouver

Despite winning five of six games in 2016, the Canadians finished ninth on home soil. Canada made the Cup quarterfinals in 2017, losing 36-7 to South Africa and eventually tied for seventh.

The Canadians finished 14th last year in Vancouver, squandering a 10-0 lead and losing 21-15 to Samoa in its finale. Canada’s overall record in Vancouver is 9-7-1.

New Zealand won the inaugural Canada Sevens in 2016, followed by England in 2017 and Fiji.

For Jones and his teammates, it’s a rare chance to perform before family and friends — and proof of how rugby sevens has grown.

“It’s a special tournament for so many different things. And I think it helps the game across Canada,” Jones said.

The Canadians were 13th last weekend in Las Vegas. Previously they tied for 11th in Dubai, Cape Town and Sydney and tied for seventh in Hamilton, where they made the Cup quarterfinals.

Canada’s preparations for the season weren’t helped by a two-month labour dispute with Rugby Canada. Injuries to key players like Jones, Lucas Hammond and speedster Justin Douglas also have affected results.

Jones remains optimistic.

“We have a great team and I strongly believe that once we kind of get everything aligned and push the off-field issues away that we’re going to start doing some great things,” Jones said.

“We’re so close to being a consistent not only a top-eight team but I think pushing further. And we have the players to do it.”

Said McGrath: “The results haven’t been fantastic for us but the thing that’s exciting for me is, given the lack of preparation, we’re getting better and better. And when all the players are back, I just have a feeling that we’ll finish this season strongly.”

And, with a regional Olympic qualifier coming at the end of the season, that’s good news.

Canada Roster

Phil Berna, UBC Thunderbirds, Vancouver; Connor Braid, James Bay AA, Victoria; Admir Cejvanovic, Burnaby Lake RFC, Burnaby, B.C.; Halifax; Mike Fuailefau, Castaway Wanderers, Victoria; Nathan Hirayama, (capt.), unattached, Richmond, B.C.; Harry Jones, Capilano RFC, West Vancouver; Isaac Kaay, UVIC Vikes, Kamloops, B.C.; Pat Kay, Castaway Wanderers, Duncan, B.C.; Luke McCloskey, Castaway Wanderers, Victoria; Toronto; Josiah Morra, Toronto Saracens, Toronto; Matt Mullins, James Bay AA, Belleville, Ont.; Jake Thiel, Abbotsford RFC, Abbotsford, B.C.; Adam Zaruba, Capilano RFC, North Vancouver.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

KUTE expands service to accept paper products

Prior to May 23 the facility had only been accepting cardboard since it reopened on April 22

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

Locals getting good grades when it comes to social distancing: RCMP

The local detachment said the public has been responsible with adhering to COVID-19 practices

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Toronto Raptors’ Ujiri says conversations about racism can no longer be avoided

Thousands have protested Floyd’s death and repeated police killings of black men across the United States

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read