Proud record for Canada continues at RWC 2011
With less than 50 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2011 begins in New Zealand, we take a look at the teams who had to qualify for this year's tournament.
Canada maintained a proud record of having reached the finals of every Rugby World Cup when they qualified for this year's tournament in New Zealand after a home and away play-off against the USA back in 2009.
The 47-30 aggregate score ensured Kieran Crowley's side became the first to qualify for RWC 2011 through the global qualifying process to join New Zealand, France, Tonga and the eventual Asian qualifier Japan in Pool A.
Trailing 12-6 after the first leg in Charleston, Canada overturned the six-point deficit and recorded a 41-18 victory on home soil in Edmonton, but coach Crowley and Aaron Carpenter admitted they didn't have things all their own way.
"We had a plan of how we wanted to play but I don't know whether the occasion just got to us," Crowley told Total Rugby.
"We played within ourselves and in the end the United States deserved their 12-6 win and they put the pressure on the second leg because of it."
"It was tough being in the United States in a city like Charleston," added Carpenter. "They really get behind their guys and there were a lot of USA chanting and I think they had a bunch of planes fly over top as the chants got going it was a really good atmosphere.
"Unfortunately we came out the wrong side of it but I think we lay down a marker for the up coming game in Edmonton by making it close and staying in the game."
Joy for the USA but a week later the two North American rivals would meet again, this time on Canadian soil at Ellerslie Park.
"There was a little bit of nervousness because you always have that when you start six points behind," added Crowley.
"On that particular day we played some pretty good rugby. They had a player sent off which benefited us in that aspect but the boys were up for it, scored some good tries and came away with a good win which qualified us."
James Pritchard, Adam Kleeburger, Justin Mensah-Coker, Ed Fairhurst, DTH van der Merwe and Matt Evans all crossed for tries and the victory ensured they qualified as Americas 1 in a pool alongside the hosts of RWC 2011.
Playing the All Blacks at home will be quite a challenge but this Canadian team are not casting themselves as the plucky underdogs of Pool A and that match will undoubtedly be a special moment for Crowley, who won the last of his 19 caps for the All Blacks in the semi-finals of RWC 1991.
Crowley: "I'll be singing Canadian anthem"
"I haven't really thought a hell of a lot about that particular game because we'll pay attention to each game as it comes," said Crowley.
"As the anthems are being sung and all of that sort of stuff I'm sure it may be a little emotional but you know I'll be singing the Canadian anthem that day."
RWC 1991 was also the one and only time Canada reached the knock-out stages of the tournament but can they match that achievement this time around or even go one step further?
"Every team goes with the chance to win and that's the dream as a kid growing up," added Carpenter.
"Holding the Webb Ellis Trophy about your head and for a time there you're in that dream in the mix to make that happen so whatever happens in that World Cup wlll be good, and it will be a great experience."
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