The seventh bi-annual International Wheelchair Rugby Canada Cup is just about ready to go at the Richmond Olympic Oval in British Columbia.
Canada’s wheelchair rugby team is looking to come out on top for the first time in the tournament’s 12-year history. The six previous Canada Cups were won by the Americans four times and Australians twice. Canada has come away with four second place finishes and ended up in third on the other two occasions.
This time around, things are different. They are led by superstar Zak Madell, and are still riding the wave from a dramatic 57-54 victory over the U.S. at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto.
Not too long after the gold medal on home soil, the team travelled to London for the World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge in Great Britain and were once again victorious. The win gave them the top spot in the world rankings for the first time in 13 years.
Canada and the rest of the top six in the world rankings will compete in the Paralympic tune-up. They are joined by (in order of ranking) the United States, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, Sweden, and Switzerland (who ranks 14th and is a European wild card) in the four-day tournament.
Instead of the previous playoff format used in this highly competitive event, each team will play each other once in a round robin. The team who finishes first in the standings will be crowned champions. There is a lot on the line with world rankings expected to be affected based on the tournament results. Canada’s biggest competition will likely be the Americans, but they will have to wait in anticipation for that game to come around.
Thurs. June 23, 10 p.m. EST – CAN vs. SWE
Fri. June 24, 3 p.m. EST – CAN vs. GB
Fri. June 24, 10 p.m. EST – CAN vs. JPN
Sat. June 25, 5 p.m. EST – CAN vs. SUI
Sat. June 25, 10 p.m. EST – CAN vs. AUS
Sun. June 26, 5:30 p.m. EST – CAN vs. USA
With their world number one ranking and two of the most recent international titles under their belt, the Canadian squad are in great standing to win their first ever Canada Cup and build on their momentum heading into Rio.
Be sure to follow @ReportOnRio on Twitter for score updates and stay tuned to the Report On Rio for a tournament recap.
Photo Credit: Dan Galbraith // Canadian Paralympic Committee