Cup on show as USA and Canada aim for England
The first direct qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England will be known at the end of the month after home and away fixtures between perennial rivals Canada and USA.
The Webb Ellis Cup will be present for both legs in Charleston, South Carolina, on August 17 and in Toronto, Ontario, on August 24 to add a little gold dust to what promises to be an epic contest and one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the 2013 Rugby calendar.
The winner on aggregate over the two legs will take the position of Americas 1 at RWC 2015 and will take the spoils as the best team in North America.
The beaten team’s hopes of qualifying for Rugby’s showcase event will remain alive, but they will need to do it the hard way, playing Uruguay home and away for the right to qualify as Americas 2.
The USA-Canada rivalry is important in many sports but for Rugby fans in North America there is no bigger match than the Eagles versus the Canucks. Canada have had the better of recent encounters, most notably the 16-9 victory in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup, which was played in Edmonton on May 25.
Little to choose between them
But the stakes are even higher now with the winners taking their place in Pool D alongside France, Ireland, Italy and the Europe 2 qualifier at Rugby World Cup 2015 and the loser needing to beat Uruguay to join South Africa, Samoa, Scotland and the Asian qualifier in Pool B.
There is little to choose between the two, with the Eagles sitting in 18th position in the IRB World Ranking, just three places behind the Canadians.
IRB Vice-Chairman Oregan Hoskins, who will attend the first leg of the tie in Charleston, said: “The USA v Canada rivalry is one of the most fiercely contested in all of Rugby and over the years they have served up some hugely exciting and intense matches.”
“This time around there is the added context of a place at Rugby World Cup 2015 being up for grabs so we can expect two highly motivated, well-prepared and passionate sides to take the field in front of large crowds. It is this sort of occasion that players relish and spectators look forward to most and I for one am looking forward to it immensely.”
Rugby is growing in North America
“We have noticed Rugby continuing to go from strength to strength in North America, one of the world’s fastest participation growth regions. Matches like this serve to reinforce that growth as we seek to reach out to more players and fans than ever before.”
“This growth is testament to IRB’s commitment to grow the Game beyond its traditional heartlands and the hard work of the Member Unions themselves in conjunction with the North America Caribbean Rugby Association.”
“Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, and through the global qualification process there is a clear pathway and opportunity for every IRB Member Union to play at that level.”
In an added boost to the clash, the famous Webb Ellis Cup will be in attendance with fans being given the opportunity to see the iconic trophy in the flesh and have their photo taken with it.
For the RWC 2015 press pack click here.