Sara Kaljuvee carries the ball for Canada during the Pan Am Games women's rugby sevens event. Canada won gold

Sara Kaljuvee carries the ball for Canada during the Pan Am Games women's rugby sevens event. Canada won gold

Saanich-based Canadians win Pan Am rugby sevens gold

Canadians win Pan Am Games gold medals, rugby athletes trained on Saanich soil

John Moonlight, Sean Duke, Nathan Hirayama and Phil Mack have all earned accolades as world sevens stars for Rugby Canada, and now they have a gold medal to back it up. Both the Langford-based Canadian men and Saanich-based (Pacific Centre for Sports Excellence) Canadian women won gold in debut of rugby sevens at the Pan Am Games in Toronto on Sunday.

The Canadian men’s team was loaded with former UVic Vikes, including Mike Fuailefau, a St. Michaels University School alum, in addition to the aforementioned foursome. (Inset photo: Mike Fualiefau charges into Mexico during the Pan Am Games. Paige Stewart/Rugby Canada)

Good things come in threes as Canada started Day 2 of the two-day rugby tournament with a sudden-­‐death, extra-­‐time 17-­‐12 win over Chile in the quarterfinal round. Down to the U.S.A in the semifinal, Canada once again rebounded, and eanred a spot in the gold medal match, by defeating the U.S. 26-­‐19. The men in red and white then clawed back to defeat Argentina 22-­‐19 on a last ‐second try from Harry Jones to win gold.

Jones made two game-saving tries in the tournament, as he dotted the ball down in the final play of regulation against Chile, which Hirayama converted to draw it 12-12.

The men defeated Guyana 45-­-0 and Brazil 26-14 on Day 1, before falling to Argentina 21-7.

On the women’s pitch, the Canadians were too much for their Pan American competition. On Day 1 of the six-team round robin format (different from the men’s playoff), the women outscored Colombia, Mexico and Brazil by scores of 55, 60 and 36 to nil. The trend continued with a 45-0 win over Argentina to start Day 2, followed by successive 34-12 and 55-7 wins over the U.S.A., the latter coming in the gold medal playoff final.

Sara Kaljuvee, who lives in Saanich, tallied twice in the final.

The final matches were held in front of 20,000 fans at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium.