Rugby World Cup History: Canada


With less than 100 days to the start of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Last Word on Sports looks back at how the participating nations have fared in the previous seven tournaments from the inaugural in 1987 to the most recent in 2011. Today’s focus is Canada, who have appeared at each of the seven previous Rugby World Cups.

Rugby World Cup History: Canada


Canada attended the inaugural Rugby World Cup as one of the nine invited nations joining the seven International Rugby Football Board countries. Drawn in Pool 2 alongside Ireland, Wales and Tonga, Canada got off to a great start easily dispatching the Tongans 37-4. However things would only get tougher from there with Ireland up next. Canada were unable to overcome the Irish going down 46-19. A 40-9 defeat to Wales in their final pool game consigned Canada to third place in the group and elimination from the World Cup.


In 1991 the eight quarter finalists from 1987 would qualify automatically with the remaining eight countries being decided by regional qualifiers. The Americas had three qualifying slots and with only Canada, USA and Argentina competing all three qualified for the finals. A home and away round robin tournament between the three nations was played to determine seeding. Canada topped the group winning three of their four matches. At the finals Canada were drawn in Pool 4 with France, Fiji and Romania. As in 1987 Canada started their campaign with a win, this time beating Fiji 13-3, following this up with a 19-11 win over Romania to gain qualification to the quarter finals. Unable to beat France in their final pool game Canada finished second in the pool and would face Pool 1 winners New Zealand. The All Blacks proved too strong for Canada running out 29-13 winners and sending the Canadians home.


Due to making the quarter finals in 1991 Canada automatically qualified for the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. Handed a tough draw with hosts South Africa, holders Australia and European qualifier Romania, Canada started well defeating Romania with ease running out 34-3 winners. However Canada struggled after this, first losing 27-11 to Australia before losing 20-0 to South Africa. This left Canada third in the group and eliminated.


To qualify for the 1999 Rugby World Cup Canada would compete in a round robin tournament with Argentina, USA and Uruguay. Canada defeated Uruguay and USA however a defeat to Argentina left them second in the group although this was still good enough to qualify for the finals. Drawn in Pool 3 with France, Fiji and Namibia, Canada did not get off to the best of starts losing 33-20 to France. Things got worse from there as Canada were unable to repeat their 1991 win over Fiji, losing 38-22. A huge 72-11 win over Namibia in their final game was scant consolation as Canada were eliminated finishing third in the pool.


The American qualifying group pitted Canada against Chile, USA and Uruguay. Canada topped the group winning all but one of their games, their only loss came away to Uruguay, to advance to the finals in Australia. Canada found themselves in Pool D facing Italy, New Zealand, Wales and Tonga. Defeats against Wales and New Zealand in their first two pool games meant qualification for the quarter finals was unlikely. A close game against Italy still left Canada on the wrong side of a 19-14 defeat, and confirmed Canada’s elimination. Canada did manage to defeat Tonga in their final group game but still finished fourth in the pool.


Canada faced Barbados and USA in the North America qualifying group for the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Canada dominated the group defeating Barbados 69-3 and the USA 56-7 to advance to the finals. Placed in Pool B along with Australia, Fiji, Japan and Wales, Canada opened up with a 42-17 defeat to Wales, followed by a 29-16 loss to Fiji. A tight game against Japan saw Canada leading 12-5 right up until the end but a last minute converted try saw the Japanese tie the game up 12-12. Canada’s final game versus Australia saw the Canadians go down 37-6 against the Wallabies, finishing bottom of the pool , due to Japan gaining a losing bonus point against Fiji.


The path to qualify for the 2011 World Cup took Canada through a home and away tie against the USA. Despite losing the 1st leg 12-6, a 41-18 victory in the 2nd leg saw Canada through 47-30 on aggregate. Facing hosts New Zealand, France, Tonga and Japan, Canada started well with a 25-20 win over a Tonga. France inflicted a 46-19 loss on Canada in their second game, before the Canadians drew against Japan for the second straight World Cup, this time Canada scored late on to tie the match. The All Blacks proved too much for Canada,  in their final pool game with New Zealand running out 79-15, leaving Canada 4th in the pool and out of the World Cup.

Canada are by far the most successful North American side at the Rugby World Cup, having appeared at every tournament. Reaching the quarter finals in 1991 is still the country’s best effort to date, and while they have continued to qualify with ease, wins at the finals have been harder to come by. A tough group containing Six Nations sides France, Ireland and Italy, will give Canada a huge challenge to match their 1991 heroics at this year’s World Cup.

To read more Rugby World Cup History click here

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