The USA are leaving the 2018 Canada Cup not only with the gold medal, but also a major confidence boost with less than two months before to go to the World Championships.
The tournament, which finished on Sunday (17 June), consisted of the top six wheelchair rugby teams and was the last major competition ahead of the 2018 Worlds in Sydney, Australia.
USA 56-53 Japan
Rio 2016 silver medallists USA defeated Japan 56-53 for their second straight Canada Cup title, and did so in dominant fashion by winning every game.winning every game.
“The Canada Cup has always been a great tournament for preparing for either the Paralympics or World Championships,” US head coach James Gumbert said. “This week’s work will add to the growth we have been working and building on over the past 18 months. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot of work to do but it’s a great performance by the team.”
After being tied With the scores tied at 13-13 at the end of the first quarter, the USA picked up their defense and forced Japan into several turnovers. They then extended their lead to as many as six in the third and never looked back.
Chuck Aoki led all scorers in the finals final with 28 tries and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after leading the USA with 126 tries and 13 steals.
Rio 2016 bronze medallists Japan, the reigning Rio 2016 bronze medallists, recorded their highest finish at the Canada Cup, improving upon their bronze medal from the 2016 edition.
Australia 63-56 Canada
Australia dispatched Canada to claim bronze behind thanks to 35 tries from tournament all-star and leading scorer Ryley Batt., en route to the bronze medal.
The hosts battled hard in the loss and managed to frustrate the Australians at times. Fabien Lavoie led the Canadians with 14 tries, but it was not enough.
Despite the victory, the reigning Paralympic and world champions Australia felt their tournament results did not reflect their full capabilities.
“We have done well under the circumstances but there is no doubt we have suffered in our results here by not having our full-strength team,” Australian assistant coach Greg Smith said.
“Having Jayden [Warn, who stayed home with his partner for the birth of their first child] certainly gives us a different look, but we knew it was going to be hard and we knew it was going to be a challenge without him. We finished where I probably thought we’d finish without him.”
The team’s head coach Brad Dubberley added: “[Not winning the Canada Cup] didn’t hurt us before Rio in 2016 and it’s never hurt us previously.
“Yes, we didn’t have Jayden here, but it’s been really good for the likes of our newer guys like Josh [Nicholson] and Jake [Howe], which has been really good to see.”
The Canada Cup has been staged biennially in Paralympic and World Championship years since 2004.
Next up is the GIO 2018 International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) Wheelchair Rugby World Championship from 5-10 August.
0.5 Jeff Butler (USA)
1.0 Steffan Jansson (Sweden)
1.5 Seiya Norimatsu (Japan)
2.0 Travis Murao (Canada)
2.5 Josh Wheeler (USA)
3.0 Daisuke Ikezaki (Japan)
3.5 Ryley Batt (Australia)
MVP: Chuck Aoki (USA)