Canada struggling to reverse decline at World Cup

Tyler Ardron of Canada celebrates winning Rugby World Cup 2019 Repechage tournament after beating Hong Kong at Stade Delort on November 23, 2018 in Marseille, France.
Tyler Ardron of Canada celebrates winning Rugby World Cup 2019 Repechage tournament after beating Hong Kong at Stade Delort on November 23, 2018 in Marseille, France.
Image: Charlie Crowhurst - World Rugby via Getty Images/World Rugby

After only just scraping into the World Cup via the backdoor, merely qualifying for the tournament will feel like victory for Canada.

Having once been the undisputed powerhouses of North American rugby, Canada's fortunes have been on a downward spiral over the past decade.

A proud record of appearing at every World Cup since the inaugural tournament in 1987 was only preserved via victory in the repechage event in Marseille last November.

That earned them a place in Pool B alongside mighty New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia.

The prospect of facing the All Blacks in their second game in Oita on October 2 provides a stark reminder of how far Canada has fallen since their golden era of the early 1990s, when they were competitive in a 29-13 quarter-final defeat by the Kiwis.

Since that 1991 tournament, however, Canada has never progressed from the pool stage, and there is zero realistic chance of that trend being reversed in Japan.

Captain Tyler Ardron, who plays for the Chiefs in Super rugby, admits that the best Canada can hope for is two wins against Italy and Namibia which would enable the team to qualify directly for the 2023 tournament.

Even that target may prove beyond them though if recent results are anything to go by.

The Canadians head into the tournament with just one win in seven internationals, a victory over South American minnows Chile in February in the Americas Rugby Championship.

Canada's decline is reflected in the team's freefall down the international rankings.

As of late August, they are outside the top 20, with improving teams like Russia, Spain, Uruguay, Romania and Georgia all ahead of them.

Ardron will provide experience and skill for the Canadian pack, while veteran Glasgow Warrior utility player DTH Van der Merwe adds attacking thrust in the backs.

- AFP

 

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