European flavour for Canada at RWC 2015
Canada are the first direct qualifiers for RWC 2015 after beating USA 40-20 on aggregate over two legs.
The Canadians put themselves firmly in the driving seat after winning the first leg 27-9 in Charleston, South Carolina, and then 13-11 in front of a packed home crowd in Toronto to qualify as Americas 1.
This means that Canada will now be the only non-European side in Pool D alongside France, Ireland, Italy, and the Europe 2 qualifier.
The tournament schedule continues to take shape and Canada can look forward to playing in four cities across England and Wales.
Canada will start their RWC 2015 campaign on 19 September at the Millennium Stadium against Ireland. They will be looking for a victory over the Irish, the only Pool D side that they have never beaten. Cardiff was also the setting for one of Canadian rugby’s most iconic moments, when the North Americans stunned Wales 26-24 at Cardiff Arms Park in 1993.
Seven days later, the Canadians will be running out at Elland Road to take on Italy. Only two places currently separate the teams in the IRB World Rankings, and Canada has a better percentage win record against Italy than against any other Six Nations team.
Stadium MK will then host Canada’s third pool match against France on 1 October. Canada have lost all three of their Rugby World Cup matches against Les Bleus, including one thrilling encounter at RWC 1991 in Agen, which France won 19-13. Canada, though, will take inspiration from their memorable 18-16 victory over France in Ontario three years later.
Canada’s final Pool D match will be on 6 October against the Europe 2 qualifier, the runner-up in the European Nations Cup 2014 which features Georgia, Romania, Spain, Russia, Portugal and Belgium. Canada will be hoping that this match opens up a gateway to the latter stages of the tournament, emulating the success of the RWC 1991 squad that reached the quarter-finals.
Players to watch
The 22-year-old Ospreys flanker has already made a big impact for the national team, despite only winning his first cap last summer. Ardron crowned his debut season by winning the 2012 Canadian Player of the Year Award.
The electric 27-year-old scrum half scored a fine solo try within 30 seconds in the first leg against the USA. Mack won his first cap in 2009 and will want to continue his impressive run of form into RWC 2015.
Now Canada’s leading point scorer, Pritchard can play either at full back or on the wing and has played in the last three Rugby World Cups. He currently plays for the Bedford Blues in England’s second tier.
DTH van der Merwe
The wing – whose full name is Daniel Tailliferre Hauman – is Glasgow Warriors’ all-time leading try scorer and has played in two Rugby World Cups already for Canada, starting every match and scoring two tries in the process.
Second row Cudmore has played in three consecutive Rugby World Cups for Canada, and currently plays for leading French club Clermont Auvergne, who he helped win the Top 14 in 2010. He had to sit out the second leg against the Eagles after breaking his wrist in the first.
Canadian rugby in numbers
1864 – The year the first recorded game of rugby was played in Canada
14 - Canada’s current IRB World Ranking
0 - The number of times Canada have failed to qualify for a Rugby World Cup
72 – Highest number of points Canada have scored in a RWC match, against Namibia at RWC 1999
1991 – The year Canada reached the RWC quarter-finals for the only time