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23 June 2016

Top wheelchair rugby teams take on Canada Cup

Canada’s Zak Madell competes at the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games. © • Jon Blacker
By Beau Greenway | For the IPC

 

The Canada Cup 2016 will give wheelchair rugby fans a great insight at what is to come at September’s Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The tournament will feature the world’s top six ranked nations, along with a European wildcard, and will be held Thursday to Sunday (23-26 June) at Richmond Olympic Oval, British Colombia, Canada.

 

The event is held every two years. It will be the perfect hit out before the Paralympic Games for Canada, USA, Japan, Australia, Great Britain and Sweden, while Switzerland round out the tournament field and will look to continue to develop their wheelchair rugby programme on the world stage.

 

Here is a look at the teams contesting in the 2016 Canada Cup.

 

Canada

The host nation and world No. 1 will have the home court advantage. The Canadians were runners-up to Australia the last time out and will be looking to win the tournament for the first time. Canada has managed to maintain the bulk of their squad from 2014, which has allowed them to develop and push their game to the next level.

Paralympic medals: Silver (1996, 2004, 2012); bronze (2008)

Head coach: Kevin Orr

Team: Zak Madell, Byron Green, Trevor Hirschfield, Patrice Dagenais, Miranda Biletski, Patrice Simard, Cody Caldwell, David Willsie, Travis Murao, Ian Chan, Fabien Lavoie, Mike Whitehead

 

Australia

Australia are going into this year’s Canada Cup much lower ranked at No. 4 compared to the No.1 ranking they held in 2014, the year they won the Cup. The defending champions should not be written off and have a talented and experienced squad at their disposal to go back-to-back and take some good form into Rio.

Paralympic medals: Gold (2012); silver (2008, 2000)

Head coach: Brad Dubberley

Team: Ryley Batt, Chris Bond, Cameron Carr, Andrew Edmondson, Nazim Erdem, Ben Fawcett, Andrew Harrison, Josh Hose, Jason Lees, Matt Lewis, Ryan Scott, Jayden Warn

 

Great Britain

Great Britain have arguably been one of the biggest improvers in wheelchair rugby in recent years. The team has continued to develop their young talent around a number of veterans to find the perfect balance of youth and experience. Great Britain narrowly missed the medals at the 2014 Canada Cup, but have had a very solid two years on the tournament front and might cause an upset against a higher-ranked nation.

Paralympic medals: None

Head coach: Paul Shaw

Team: Alan Ash, Coral Batey, Ayaz Bhuta, Jonathan Coggan, Ryan Cowling, Bulbul Hussain, Michael Kerr, James Roberts, Christopher Ryan, Mandip Sehmi, Jamie Stead, Gavin Walker

 

Japan

Japan continue to fly under the radar in the wheelchair rugby world, but usually seem to find themselves at the business end of most major tournaments. This year’s Canada Cup should be no exception, with a few changes to their squad over the past two seasons adding more depth to their balanced line-up.

Paralympic medals: None

Head coach: Koichi Ogino

Team: Masayuki Haga, Yukinobu Ike, Daisuke Ikezaki, Tomoaki Imai, Kazuhiko Kanno, Kotaro Kishi, Shin Nakazato, Seiya Norimatsu, Shinichi Shimakawa, Takeshi Shoji, Hidefumi Wakayama, Takahisa Yamaguchi.

 

Sweden

Europe’s No. 2 ranked team will be tough competition for the rest of the Canada Cup field in 2016. The team has continued to build since London 2012 and has a lot more experience in big matches than they did in 2014. Sweden will look to get plenty of court time into their improving squad throughout the Canada Cup.

Paralympic medals: None

Head coach: Benoit Labrecque

Team: Glenn Adaszak, Claes Bertilsson, Andreas Collin, Thomas Eriksson, Tomas Hjert, Stefan Jansson, Roger Lindberg, Mikael Norlin, Loa Rissmar, Tobias Sandberg, Lars Vernerud

 

Switzerland

The Swiss side will start the event as underdogs but will relish the opportunity to play against the world’s top-ranked nations. After finishing seventh at the 2014 Canada Cup, Switzerland will be aiming to improve with each game they play and continue to develop their wheelchair rugby programme for future years.

Switzerland will have to wait until day two of the tournament to get on the court, where they will face Sweden.

Paralympic medals: None

Assistant coach: Christian Haerdi

Team: Andreas Braendli, Christian Haehnel, Silvania Hegglin, Adrian Moser, David Mzee, Anton Schillig.

 

USA

After missing the tournament in 2014, USA will be eager to bounce back and play at the level that saw them win the Canada Cup in 2012. The world’s No. 2 ranked side will need to be at their best to qualify for the semi-finals and have a shot at the title. A number of new faces make up the USA squad so it will be interesting to see how they perform.

Paralympic medals: Gold (1996, 2000, 2008); bronze (2004, 2012)

Head coach: James Gumbert

Team: Chuck Aoki, Joshua Brewer, Jeffrey Butler, Chad Cohn, Lee Fredette, Seth McBride, Anthony McDaniel, Charles Melton, Eric Newby, Kory Puderbaugh, Jason Regier, Joshua Wheeler

 

The Canada Cup 2016 will be live streamed. More information, including a schedule of the tournament, can be found on the event website.