Canada v Italy - RWC 2019

September 26 2019

Andrew Coe - RWC 2019 vs Italy

Italy Thump Canada 48-7 in Canada's Opening RWC Match: Match Report, Stats, Other Thoughts

We divided the article into three sections and save the editorial thoughts to last. First we'll get through the match report then the stats put out by World Rugby and finally the "other thoughts".

Match Report

Cole Keith was a late replacement for Jake Ilnicki at reserve prop.

Italy threatened a minute into the match when Canada used a box kick from inside their 22 that was knocked on and recovered by Italy. The Italians put together four phases and then a grubber down the wing that ended in a footrace between the Italy scrum half and Pat Parfrey at fullback. Parfrey was adjudged to have taken the ball across the line and Italy were awarded a 5 metre scrum. The #8, Braam Steyn, had a go at the line and was stopped short, Canada were pinged for hands in the ruck. Italy took the 3 and were up 3-0 with 3 minutes gone.

From the kickoff the teams traded kicks, Peter Nelson put a high ball up that was taken by Italy, they put in another multi-phase attack before Hubert Buydens was called offside. From the lineout Italy worked the ball down to Canada's 10 metres before the runner was forced into touch, Canada throw in. Howard was called for not throwing in straight and Italy had an attacking scrum from 10 metres out. Italy #8 Braam Steyn picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and ran through a Lucas Rumball tackle attempt and used #10 Peter Nelson as a speed bump. Nick Blevins and Jeff Hassler collided as they tried to stop the rampaging #8 with Blevins face meeting Hassler's shoulder, Blevins would be done for the day and Ciaran Hearn came in at inside centre. It was 10-0 with 8 minutes gone.

Canada finally got some possession inside the Italy half when Parfrey gathered in a high ball from a box kick initiated by the Italian scrum half. Canada put together their first multi-phase attack with both DTH and Hassler getting touches on either side of the field, Nelson opted to end the attack with a cross kick that bounced out at the Italian 10 metres. Italy won the line out but were under pressure however Canada were pinged for not rolling away from a tackle and Italy cleared to midfield. Italy won the lineout, kept the ball in hand, put together the phases while efficiently moving the ball down the pitch to outside the Canada 22. The Italian captain and former Velox #8, Dean Budd, then gave a bit of a dummy, tucked the ball under his arm and ran through a Matt Tierney tackle attempt with fellow prop, Hubert Buydens, looking on. There was no defensive cover behind and he loped 22 metres to touch down under the posts. It was converted 17-0 with 14 minutes gone.

At 15 minutes Rumball came out with an injury and Matt Heaton took over at openside flanker. Canada began their best phase of play in the match, keeping the ball in hand and testing Italy. It eventually paid off with Tyler Ardron making the line break with Heaton and McRorie in support, one defender to beat, Ardron draws the defender, offloads to Heaton who just has to catch the ball and run 5 metres and... it hits him in the hands, at chest level and then bounces off the ground. Italy get the scrum with 22 minutes left in the half.

Canada play well for the next 20 minutes with several line breaks, most involving DTH, however Italian cross cover defence is superb and Canada can't cross the line. At 38 minutes the ball is down at the Canada 5 metres with Italy having the scrum, Buydens leaves and Djustice Sears-Duru comes in at loosehead prop. The scrum is stable but Italy pound the line with pick and go phases, Mike Sheppard saves the day with a strong counter ruck that allows Canada to steal possession and then kick the ball out to end the half down 17-0.

The second half started loose with teams kicking back and forth and possession turning over several times, eventually instead of kicking the Italy fullback decides to take on the line and is eventually rewarded with a penalty when Ardron is pinged for coming off the line too fast at the breakdown and is adjudged offside. Italy kick for the lineout and keep the ball inside Canada's red zone, eventually they work their way inside the 5 metres and patiently maintain possession, finally finding a gap with a miss pass and the #6 Sebastian Negri crosses the line. It's 24-0 with 4 minutes gone in the second half.

Canada's error rate increases, they lose possession and they pick up another penalty for playing the ball on the ground. Italy repeat the process, kick for the corner, lineout and maul. Canada get a reprieve when Peter Nelson strips the ball from the ball carrier and get a subsequent penalty to clear their zone. Canada get an excellent chance for a score when DTH again breaks the line, to LeSage, to Hassler who throws the ball back to DTH as he's going into touch. There's a hint of an early tackle on DTH but it's not picked up by the officiating crew and Italy get a scrum at their 5 metres. Italy's cover defence is again superb and Canada are missing that one extra finisher to complement DTH.

At 55 minutes another error as McRorie knocks the ball on trying to retrieve the ball at the ruck, Italy counter attack and Canada soon find themselves defending a lineout at their 10 metres. After a lineout, maul, penalty, lineout, maul - Italy finally get the ball over the line but in the process Heaton is penalized for taking the maul down, given a yellow and Italy are awarded a penalty try. 31-0 for Italy with a quarter to go and Canada down a man.

Piffero comes on for Howard to take his first lineout, it's bobbled but Canada retain possession. McRorie puts up another box kick, Italy win the ball and their openside, Jake Polledri, finds space, the ball gets outside to replacement winger, Bellini, who outruns the cover defence for another try. 36-0 with 17 minutes left.

Andrew Coe comes in as a replacement. It looks like Canada catches a break when a Peter Nelson chip bounces around and ends up in Ardron's hands outside the try zone. The television match official overrules it, deeming it came off a Canadian hand and was a knock on. Italy get the scrum on their 5 metres. At 65 minutes Jamie Mackenzie replaces McRorie at scrum half. Peter Nelson makes a line break finds a streaking Coe on the outside, Coe dazzles with his footwork and beats his defender for Canada's first and only try. Italy get another at 74 minutes from a lineout and drive. The final insult at 78 minutes when Canada put up another high ball that Italy recover, they counter attack, the #7 again breaking the line and finished off by the fullback, Minnozi. 48-7 is the final.


Possession and Territory were fairly even, Italy having a slight advantage in both, 55% and 54%. Italy had a 89% tackling success compared to Canada's 72%. Most of the stats favoured Italy, mauls won 7 to 2, offloads 14 to 8, defenders beaten 43 to 14, carries over gainline 44 to 27, penalties conceded 4 to 11. Individually their loose forwards stood out Polledri at #7, 3 offloads, 109 metres carried, 0 handling errors, 10 passes, 14 defenders beaten, 3 clean break. Their #6, Negri, and #8 Steyn were the top tacklers, the only high rate tacklers with no missed tackles. Steyn had 11 tackles with 0 missed, Negri had 9 tackles with 0 missed. In comparison McRorie was Canada's top tackler with 10 but with 5 missed. Ardron was 9 tackes with 3 missed, Heaton 9 tackles with 1 missed and Sheppard 6 tackles with 5 missed. DTH was Canada's top ball carrier with 124 metres, the only Canadian in the top 7 with Italian fullback, Minozzi, topping the list at 127 metres. Next best Canadian was Andrew Coe at 52 metres and he only played 18 minutes. Following him were Nelson at 51 metres and Parfrey at 50 metres.

Other Thoughts

A very disappointing result, Canada played well for 20 minutes here and 10 minutes there but were down 17-0 before they blinked and then lapsed for periods throughout the match. The intensity, especially in defensive cross cover, seems to be missing. Compare to Uruguay whose tackle percentage was a mediocre 79% against Fiji but they put in a phenomenal 181 tackles so there was usually a second and third tackler to back up the missed tackle. Canada had a poor 72% tackle percentage but put in an average 113 tackles, almost identical to Italy at 114.

Canada's error rate and discipline were poor, dropping balls at key times, running up an excessive penalty count, these seem mental errors. Is Canada's mindset in the proper place going into this tournament? When we saw the "Yukata/Kimono skit" we cringed a bit - whose idea was that, is this a reflection on the management, culture and mindset of the team on tour? It's difficult to imagine a Tier 1 nation presenting themselves that way at the World Cup.

Then there are the selections, with DTH making those line breaks and looking to connect, was anyone else thinking Theo Sauder on his shoulder? Andrew Coe was the only player able to cross the line. Uruguay's age average for their starting XV vs Fiji was 25 years old, Canada was approaching 28, is that a hint that we should have taken a chance with a few younger players?

In reality, even though Kingsley Jones sold the idea of a possible Italy win, the tournament was always going to come down to the Namibia match. That's still salvageable, it's a mental readjustment the team needs at this late stage. They need to put in the extra defensive effort, to put in 180+ tackles if needed, in case someone misses a tackle. They also need to focus on making their first up tackles and be mindful of ball security. Then finally the strategy, is the box kick working as is, it gave possession away to Italy too many times. Is it better to clear to touch when inside the 22 and then keep the ball in hand and be patient when outside the 22, focusing on winning each breakdown. Hopefully working through the NZ and South Africa games they can develop a style of play that will get them past Namibia.

Canada Lineup Announced for First 2019 World Cup Match vs Italy - Three Key Injuries

It's time, Canada's first match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The bad news is that Canada are missing three players to injury, Evan Olmstead, Taylor Paris and Kyle Baillie. The good news is the bookies have improved the handicap spread on Canada from -22 to -20, likely due to Italy's mediocre showing against Namibia. However Italy have made massive changes to their roster, two new props, a new second row, new flankers, new scrum half, and a completely reshuffled backline. Basically they kept some of the outstanding players from the Namibia game; #10 Tommaso Allen, the hooker Luca Bigi, #6 Braam Steyn but moved him to #8, the outstanding fullback Jayden Hayward to inside centre, and the outside centre Tommaso Benvenuti to wing. Captaining the Italian side is Dean Budd who played a season of rugby with Velox in the BC Premier league in 2009-2010 before moving to Italy. He's originally from Auckland.

The Canada second row without Olmstead and Baillie now sees Conor Keys and Josh Larsen starting. The front row and loose forwards are the same as recent selections with Buydens, Howard and Tierney up front and Sheppard, Rumball, Ardron at the back. Jones has decided to sit Phil Mack and has gone with McRorie at starting #9 with Jamie Mackenzie backing up. Peter Nelson gets the start at #10 with Shane O'Leary given the day off. Jones has put Blevins at inside centre after playing Hearn throughout all the warm up matches. Ben LeSage maintains his outside centre position. Hassler and DTH are on the outside with Pat Parfrey at fullback. Piffero, Ilnicki, Sears-Duru come off the bench in the front row while Luke Campbell and Matt Heaton cover the remaining forward positions. Ciaran Hearn and Andrew Coe cover the backline.

Fifteen of the players have played in the BC Premier competition in the past. Kickoff is at 45 minutes past midnight late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning on the west coast.

Canada's Roster:

1. Hubert Buydens (Saskatoon, SK) Unattached (CW)
2. Eric Howard (Ottawa, ON) New Orleans Gold (Westshore)
3. Matthew Tierney (Oakville, ON) Castres Olympiques
4. Conor Keys (Stittsville, ON) Unattached (UVic)
5. Josh Larsen (Parksville, BC) New England Free Jacks
6. Mike Sheppard (Brampton, ON) Toronto Arrows
7. Lucas Rumball (Scarborough, ON) Toronto Arrows (JBAA)
8. Tyler Ardron (Lakefield, ON) Chiefs 'C'
9. Gordon McRorie (Calgary, AB) Calgary Hornets (Ravens)
10. Peter Nelson (Dungannon, UK) Unattached
11. DTH van der Merwe (Regina, SK) Glasgow Warriors (JBAA)
12. Nick Blevins (Calgary, AB) Calgary Hornets (JBAA/Velox)
13. Ben LeSage (Calgary, AB) Calgary Canucks (UBC)
14. Jeff Hassler (Okotoks, AB) Seattle Seawolves (JBAA)
15. Patrick Parfrey (St. John's, NL) Toronto Arrows (JBAA)
16. Benoit Piffero (Issoire, France) Blagnac SCR
17. Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville, ON) Seattle Seawolves
18. Jake Ilnicki (Williams Lake, BC) Seattle Seawolves (CW)
19. Luke Campbell (Victoria, BC) Toronto Arrows (JBAA)
20. Matt Heaton (Godmanchester, QC) Rugby ATL
21. Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville, ON) Toronto Arrows (UVic)
22. Ciaran Hearn (Conception Bay South, NL) Unattached (CW)
23. Andrew Coe (Markham, ON) Markham Irish (UBC)

from Rugby Canada

FUKUOKA, JAPAN (September 24, 2019) - Head coach Kingsley Jones has selected his 23-man roster that will take the pitch in Fukuoka, Japan to open up Canada's 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign against Italy on September 26th, 2019.

This will be the first game of the RWC 2019 for 22nd-ranked Canada and the second for 14th-ranked Italy, who took down Namibia 47-22 on Sunday.

"We got a look at Italy in their match against Namibia and we’re excited to get on the pitch and have a crack at them," said Jones.

The squad features a fair mix of experience and youth, with the likes of veterans DTH van der Merwe and Ciaran Hearn taking the pitch in their fourth and third RWC respectively. This will be the first RWC for 10 players in Thursday's lineup.

Jones will be without the services of some of his regulars for Thursday's match, giving an opportunity to up-and-comers Josh Larsen and Conor Keys.

“Unfortunate for Taylor Paris and Evan Olmstead, they’ve missed out on selection through slight low body injuries," commented Jones. "Nothing that’s going to keep them out long term but they’re not quite ready for this one. Overall we’re pleased with the combinations we have.”

Jones and the Canadian squad are ready to take every challenge head-on, facing off next against reigning champions New Zealand and South Africa before ending pool play against Namibia.

“It’s a tough pool we’re facing but we’ve worked a long while towards this and this first one is going to be a huge game for us." added Jones.

Fans can watch every match of the Rugby World Cup 2019 LIVE on TSN. Full broadcast schedule is available HERE.

Canada's Rugby World Cup 2019 Schedule:

00:45 PT/ 03:45 ET/ 16:45 LOCAL TIME
Broadcast: TSN1, TSN3, and TSN4
Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City

03:15 PT/ 06:15 ET/ 19:15 LOCAL TIME
Broadcast: TSN1 and TSN4
Oita Stadium, Oita Prefecture

03:15 PT/ 06:15 ET /19:15 LOCAL TIME
Broadcast: TSN1, TSN3, and TSN4
Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe City

20:15 PT/ 23:15 ET/ 12:15 LOCAL TIME
Broadcast: TSN
Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Iwate Prefecture, Kamaishi

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