World Cup Wrapup - Canada 2019

October 13 2019

Rugby Canada logo (Feb 2018)

Canada End World Cup With Cancelled Match: Finish with Worst Point Differential and Questions for the Future

[ed. comments below]

Canada's World Cup ended with a 0-0 draw against Namibia in a game that was never played. World Rugby decided to cancel the match due to weather with Typhoon Hagibis creating safety concerns. Two other matches were cancelled over the weekend Italy v NZ and France v England. Four other matches continued despite the Typhoon, Ireland v Samoa, USA v Tonga, Wales v Uruguay and Japan v Scotland. The latter match was the centre of controversy as the Scottish Rugby Union made it clear it would pursue legal action against World Rugby if the match was outright cancelled without relocation or postponement being offered as alternatives. World Rugby decided to go ahead with the match which Japan won 28-21.

Canada finished last in their pool, tied at 2 points with Namibia but with a lower point differential.

Canada had the worst point differential in the tournament (-163), scored the lowest amount of points (14) and let in the most points (177). Canada went into the tournament as 6 point favourites against Namibia in the betting world and left as half point underdogs after pundits had a view of what both teams offered. It wasn't a great tournament for Canada.

The media highlights for Canada were all off field: the first team to assign a women as manager; the comedic kimono skit, the fanboy selfies with the All Blacks, the Josh Larsen heartfelt apology for a red card to the South Africans, and the community clean up help when their game was cancelled. Some players are even staying behind to put on a community BBQ. There's no doubt about it, Canadians are nice people, good global citizens, apologize profusely and are good sports about losing. All those positives however don't hide one basic truth - the men's XVs team are not good at playing rugby. Will being nice get Canada to the 2023 World Cup - not likely. The men's XVs program has developed a culture of celebrating losing and that's a worry going into the next four year cycle. There was early hope that Uruguay would finish 3rd in their pool after they upset Fiji. That would have guaranteed them a spot in the 2023 RWC and Canada wouldn't have to contend with them in the qualifier. They lost the match to Georgia however so now Canada will have to get past USA and Uruguay on the road to 2023. Both Uruguay and USA finished last in their pools but Uruguay at least had a win. It brings up the question of how MLR is improving the quality of North American rugby, based on World Cup results it's not but we'll see if results over the next four years paint a different picture.

Kingsley Jones has already been given the keys to the next four year cycle, does that instill confidence, not really. He hasn't produced results and hasn't shown any inclination to try a different approach. He's stuck with a core group of players, many of them won't be competing in four years. He hasn't shown any inclination to build for the future and open up his selections to a wider and younger pool of players.

As for the rest of the World Cup, there's a week off, with the quarter-finals taking place Saturday and Sunday. England v Australia, Japan v South Africa, NZ v Ireland and Wales v France. Japan are no doubt the surprise team of the tournament, the latest rankings update shows them ranked 7th in the world now. The USA dropped from 15th to 17th, Canada remains at 22nd with Namibia at 23rd. Uruguay are 18th and the highest ranking team who didn't make the World Cup, Spain at 16th.

Pemberton Holmes
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