LANGFORD, B.C. – John Moonlight will become Canada’s all-time HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series caps leader at the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.
Moonlight will play in his 53rd tournament, surpassing Phil Mack’s previous record of 52. Moonlight and Mack are the only two players in Canadian history to play in 50 or more series tournaments.
“It’s a huge honour to have represented Canada so many times,” Moonlight said. “I cherish every time I can pull on the jersey and hope I can continue to make everyone at home proud.”
The Pickering, Ont., native made his debut at the 2009 Hong Kong Sevens. Since then, Moonlight has won two Pan-Am Games gold medals, helped Canada finish sixth during the 2013-14 season, played in the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens and became one of the faces of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series circuit.
The 29-year-old has registered 94 series tries, the fourth most all-time in Canadian history, while his 470 points rank seventh.
“John is a coach’s dream,” head coach Damian McGrath said. “His dedication, application and continued desire to be the best he can be is inspirational. I constantly remind the younger players how lucky they are to have him around to watch and learn from. He still craves success on a personal level but most of all he wants Canada to be successful. I count myself very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him and long may it continue.”
Moonlight will be joined in Las Vegas by Phil Berna, Luke Bradley, Justin Douglas, Mike Fuailefau, Lucas Hammond, Nathan Hirayama, Caleb Jordan, Harry Jones, Isaac Kaay, Pat Kay, Luke McCloskey and Adam Zaruba. Jones will captain Canada.
“Phil was a key player in our first two tournaments and was always going to step back in once he recovered from injury,” McGrath said. “Hirayama isn’t quite 100 percent yet so we have named him in the squad to give him an extra week. However if we aren’t convinced of his ability to get through the rigors of a three-day competition we will rest him for Vancouver. Luke has been training extremely well and deserves his opportunity.”
Canada has been drawn into Pool A with series leaders South Africa as well as France and Wales. Canada sits 12th in the series standings having finished 13th in three of the first four events while finishing fourth at the Wellington Sevens.
“The result of our poor showing in Sydney is a very tough pool,” McGrath said. “South Africa are the best team in the world right now and looking like world champions elect. Wales are gaining the rewards of keeping a young team together over the past couple of years and have had some impressive results. However, we did beat them convincingly in Wellington. France as always have a very experienced squad whose inconsistent results are the only thing which stops them from challenging in the cup competition.
“There are no easy games or groups in men’s sevens and as much as we are underdogs, the other teams will not be relishing playing us.”
The USA Sevens is played over three days with two pool games on Day 1 and one more on Day 2. The tournament can be seen in its entirety LIVE on www.worldrugby.org
Canada’s Men’s Sevens Squad for USA Sevens (Name, club, hometown):
Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC
Luke Bradley, UVic Vikes/Port Alberni Black Sheep (Port Alberni, BC)
Justin Douglas – (Abbotsford RFC/BC Bears) Abbotsford, BC
Mike Fuailefau – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Lucas Hammond – (UVIC Vikes) Toronto, ON
Nathan Hirayama – (UVic Vikes/BC Bears) Richmond, BC
Harry Jones – Captain (Capilano RFC) Vancouver, BC
Caleb Jordan – (Montreal Wanderers) Montreal, QC
Isaac Kaay – (UVic Vikes) Kamloops, BC
Pat Kay – (Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears) Duncan, BC
Luke McCloskey – (Castaway Wanderers) Victoria, BC
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Adam Zaruba – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Unavailable for Selection:
Matt Mullins – (Queen’s University/Ontario Blues) Belleville, ON
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Day 1 Schedule:
Canada vs. South Africa — 9:43pm ET/6:43pm PT
Canada vs. Wales — 12:20am ET/9:20pm PT
Day 2 Schedule:
Canada vs. France — 6:46pm ET/3:46pm PT