RWC 2023 Qualification Series

July 01 2021


Webb Ellis Cup on display at Swiler's RFC
© Mark Bryant

Canada Announce St John's for First Round of RWC 2023 Qualifying vs USA - Langford for October Series with South American Team



It was August 12 2006 when Canada and USA met in St. John's, Newfoundland for the RWC 2007 qualifier. Canada went on to win that match 56-7 and go through as Americas #1. Ric Suggit was coach and Mike James and Morgan Williams were the player reps at the press conference. I remember it well, I had flown out from Vancouver Island for the week and stayed at the modest Memorial University residences to cover the match for BCRN.

Canada had a front row of Kevin Tkachuk, Pat Riordan with Rod Snow anchoring at tighthead prop. Mark Lawson, now Dr. Lawson, was the reserve hooker. Jamie Cudmore the blindside flanker and Stan McKeen the openside, Sean-Michael Stephen the #8. Ander Monro was the steady #10 with Morgan Williams the scrum half. On the wings, James Pritchard and Justin Mensah-Coker.

I'm just looking back at my notes on the weather the morning of the match "Even though I couldn't vouch that there is a sun in the sky today, any moisture seems to be held in a low band of fog that is suspended above the city. If that holds for another seven hours then the rugby gods have done their jobs. The grass looks firm enough and there is a slight chill in the air, almost perfect rugby weather right now. The wind is enough to rustle the leaves but not enough to pick up small farm animals."

At half time the match was all but over, again reading through my half time notes, "Scores by Rod Snow, Sean Michael Stephen and Ryan Smith with Pritchard perfect on the conversions and two penalties for a 27-0 scoreline at half. Ryan Smith got sent off before the half so Canada starts with 14 men and has to concentrate as the game is not over yet. Excellent cross defence by the Canadians held the American backs in check and the Canadian forwards are handling their southern counterparts. Offloading in the tackle was the key in a couple of the Canadian tries and it all seemed too easy for the Canucks. It's a new game in the second half and Canada will have to come out just as intense."

Good memories and a good day for Canadian rugby. Fifteen years later, the rugby landscape has shifted, Rugby Canada are hoping for some magic from the far east coast and a repeat of 2006.

Later in the fall they'll be returning to the far west coast to start their home and away series with a South American team on October 2nd at Starlight Stadium in Langford.

These are the possible scenarios, Canada defeats USA in the home and away and then would likely face Uruguay for a home and away to determine Americas #1. Canada lose to USA and then would likely face Brazil for a home and away series, the winner to stay in the hunt for Americas #2, the loser to drop out of the RWC 2023 qualification process.

from Rugby Canada

Rugby Canada has announced that international rugby is scheduled to return to Canada on September 4th with the first round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying for Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team. It is then intended for the second round to be hosted on October 2nd. Both matches, presented by Rugby Canada premier partner DHL, will be the first leg of a “home and home” total points series that will ultimately lead to two direct qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2023 from North and South America, with a third team heading to the global repechage tournament in November, 2022. The Rugby World Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world and is contested every four years between 20 competing nations. Canada holds the distinction of qualifying for every Rugby World Cup tournament since its inception in 1987.

On-going work continues with governments, stakeholders and partners to ensure all events meet any relevant COVID requirements in order to maintain the safety of participants and attendees. Round one of qualification, if able to move forward, would mark the first international rugby on Canadian soil since the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver in March, 2020.

Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team is scheduled to begin their Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying campaign on September 4th versus the USA. This match would see the return of international rugby to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time in 15 years. Rugby Canada has been working with a dedicated local organizing committee for a number of months to host the qualifier at Swiler’s Rugby Park. Further details and ticketing information will be released shortly. Canada will then travel to the USA the following weekend, September 11th, for the return match.

“It’s exciting to be discussing the return of international rugby and we’ve received enthusiastic support from a number of partners and stakeholders,” said Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen. "Rugby Canada and the Newfoundland and Labrador Rugby Union are especially grateful for the support from Premier Andrew Furey, Minister Seamus O'Regan and St. John's Mayor Danny Breen to bring this game to St. John's.”

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the honourable Andrew Furey, added, “Rugby has been fostered here in Newfoundland and Labrador for a number of years, so it is exciting for us to host a Rugby World Cup qualifying game between Canada and the United States in September. We look forward to welcoming the teams and their supporters for what is bound to be a great event, while inspiring local rugby fans and players.”

The second round of Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifying will start on October 2nd. Match-ups will depend on the results from round one, with North America #1 seed taking on South America #1, and North America #2 versus South America #2. Rugby Canada will ensure “coast to coast” coverage by hosting the October 2nd qualification match at their home Starlight Stadium in Langford, BC. Further details and ticketing information will be released when available. After this test, Canada travels to South America for the return match.

“On behalf of Rugby Canada, I must recognize Sport Canada for their support and guidance, Minister Melanie Mark and the Provincial Government of BC for their willingness to explore all options for ensuring the hosting of these events can move forward in a safe environment, and the continued support of Mayor Stewart Young and the City of Langford,” stated Rugby Canada Managing Director of Business Operations, Jamie Levchuk. “In conjunction with our Premier partner DHL, we’ve set a mandate to have top-end matches and tournaments hosted across our country, and we can’t wait to officially confirm these qualifying tests in St.John’s and Langford.”

“The last international sporting event I attended was at BC Place where we hosted the world for rugby sevens. This is exciting progress as more activities resume safely in Steps 3 and 4 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, especially with fans in the stands again,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “B.C. is proud to host this qualifying round, as well as many more rugby activities as part of our economic recovery.”

After two rounds of qualification, the winner of NA #1 vs SA #1 will qualify as ‘Americas 1’ for Rugby World Cup 2023. The loser of the #1 seed qualifier will take on the winner of the #2 seed qualifier in July, 2022 where the winner of this round will qualify as ‘Americas 2’ for Rugby World Cup 2023 while the loser will head to the Global repechage tournament. The loser of the #2 seed qualifier in October will be eliminated from Rugby World Cup contention.

“We’re looking forward to traveling out to the East Coast for our round one match but are equally excited to be back playing in our home stadium,” stated Kingsley Jones, Director of Men’s Performance Rugby and National 15s Head Coach. “It is important that we give ourselves a home field advantage for both rounds of qualification and are excited about these opportunities to take the pitch in front of our fans for the first time since 2019.”

Updates on each event will be made as available. Broadcast and ticket information will be released at a later date.

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