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Canada and Japan entertain sold-out Swangard Stadium in international rugby match

Tourism Burnaby Guest Author: Shaheed Devji With sunny skies, warm weather and a boisterous crowd, the scene was picture perfect when Canada hosted Japan in the both teams’ first game of the Pacific Nations Cup international rugby tournament this past weekend.

But while the atmosphere at a sold-out Swangard Stadium could not have been any better, the result felt a little short for the home team, as the Maple Leafs dropped the decision 34-25 to the visiting Brave Blossoms from Japan. “We executed a lot of things that we wanted to,” says Tyler Ardron, who plays professionally for Ospreys in Wales and served as Canada’s captain for the first time on Saturday. “If you look at that first half a lot of things went our way and if you look at the second half a couple bounces maybe went their way.” Twenty-eight years to the day the Japanese beat Canada 26-21 at Swangard, it looked like history would not repeat itself after the Canadians stunning opening half. The game began with Canada controlling the play, keeping possession of the ball for several minutes in the Japanese end. All the hard work finally paid off in the eighth minute when Ciaran Hearn scored the game’s first try to make it 5-0. As the half went on, both teams converted penalty kicks, bringing the score to 11-9 for Canada. That’s when the boys in red-and-white brought the capacity crowd of 6,328 to their feet once again. Taylor Paris broke free on a lengthy run before the ball found John Moonlight, who scored. Minutes later, Paris was on the receiving end of a break from Jeff Hassler, and scored a try for himself.

Canada led 25-9 at the half and headed into the dressing room to a loud ovation from the home fans. “That’s huge,” says Ardron. “Any time you can have that sixteenth supporter behind you is always helpful. Just picks up that energy and gets you around the corner.” The second half, however, was a different story as Japan, ranked No.12 in the world, stormed back scoring three tries of their own, en route to a 34-25 victory over 15th-ranked Canada.

Despite coming out on the short end, Canada can take several positives from the game, as it continues its preparation for the 2015 World Cup in England. “We played really well in that first half,” says Canadian head coach Kieran Crowley. “We put pressure on them and scored couple really really good tries.” “Japan just took it to us and they deserved to win with that second half performance.” And with Canada’s World Cup preparation in mind, the experience of playing in pressure-packed environment at home was a good one. “We’ve been really well looked after here in Burnaby,” adds Crowley. “The crowd today is a sellout crowd. It’s outstanding for rugby.” Those sentiments were echoed by the Japanese side, which was treated to a highly energetic and educated rugby crowd. “Fantastic,” says Japanese head coach Eddie of the atmosphere at Swangard. “Really good crowd, the ground was in fantastic condition, and you must have the best weather in the world in Vancouver.” Canada now will shift its focus to Toronto, where they will take on Scotland in a test match at BMO Field on June 14th, before continuing its quest for the Pacific Nations Cup when they take on the United States in Sacramento on June 21st. For more events in Burnaby, visit the Tourism Burnaby events calendar.