Penticton’s Nakai Penny and Canada were edged 19-18 Saturday night in Austin, Texas by USA on the final play to qualify for the World Rugby U20 Trophy.
Canada had taken the lead in 76th minute when fly half Robbie Povey’s penalty flew between the sticks but Ben Cima converted from inside his own half, having missed a penalty a mere 90 seconds earlier, to give the USA a one-point victory. With the loss, Canada will not play in the tournament in April.
Nakai, who plays rugby for the UBC Thunderbirds, was a back row named to the roster by coach Jeff Williams on Friday, as announced by Rugby Canada. The Canadian squad was backed by nine returning players.
Thirty-nine players were brought to two camps before a final squad of 25 was selected for the qualifier. Both camps were held at Shawnigan Lake School and the second camp concluded with a 44-7 win over Castaway Wanderers at Westhills Stadium in Langford.
Last year, Canada beat the USA over a two-leg qualification series by scores of 24-23 and 45-6 to seal their spot at the 2015 World Junior Trophy where they’d go on to record their best ever finish of second place.