The state and legacy of Canadian Rugby in 1993

Canadian rugby in 1993 was a different world. Social media did not exist and the internet was not mainstream at the time. It was also a time when rugby union as a game was not a professional sport. Lastly, this was a time when the Canadian men’s rugby union national team was very close to its peak.

In 1991, Canada lost in the quarter-finals against New Zealand. To date, this was Canada’s best-ever performance at Rugby World Cup. Lastly, women’s rugby also took a major step forward with the Canada Cup in 1993. They participated in the very first Women’s Rugby World Cup in 1991 and finished in fifth place. Both Canadian rugby union programs were on a high going into 1993. This was while the rugby league was very small in Canada, which only had the national men’s team in 1993.

1993: Men’s and Women’s Canada Rugby National Teams

Canadian Rugby Men’s National Team

The England Rugby Union Tour in Canada

This was probably one of the biggest highlights of Canadian rugby union history. The England national rugby union team travelled to five different cities across Canada. The first three games took place in British Columbia, while the last two took place in Ontario (Ont.) The Canadians finished with a record of one win and four losses.

Their lone win came in Burnaby, British Columbia (B.C.), where Canada defeated England at Swangard Stadium 12-15.  Players like Julian Loveday and Dave Lougheed played a big role in Canada getting those three points.

This played a critical role in their win. In the dying minutes of the game, English player Neil Back got involved in a scuffle with Canadian Karl Svoboda and it turned into a penalty. As a result, Gareth Rees got a penalty and converted the penalty. The game ended with a 12-15 victory for Team Canada.

The game at Burnaby was the third of five games that took place in Canada. However, the only other game they had a chance to win was the one in Canada’s capital in Ottawa. In that game, England won 19-14 in Twin Elm Rugby Park, Nepean, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

The first game was in Victoria, B.C. where Canada lost 26-10. Canada would also lose to England 26-11 at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, B.C. The most lopsided game was the fourth game on the 2 June in Toronto, Ontario. In that game, Canada lost badly against England with a scoreline of 40-7. Besides these series of matches with England, Canada also had other games including a 20-9 win over the Americans in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Canada vs. Wales at Cardiff Arms Park

Most famously, Canada won against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park. Al Charron scored the try late against Wales. This gave Canada a chance to win the game. As a result, Rees converted the kick and Canada ended up winning 26-24.

This is what Charron said of why that was his favourite moment of his senior career with Canada according to World Rugby:

“For us coming to that game we weren’t meant to win and for us to get our first victory over an established rugby nation like Wales in Wales its certainly put rugby a little bit more on the map for Canada and one that Canadians take great pride in.”

Charron said earlier in the video that Wales was not doing very well when Canada faced them in 1993. Nevertheless, it was a historic moment for Canada. Probably one of the greatest moments not just in 1993, but also in the Canadian men’s national team’s history.

Unfortunately, Canadian men’s rugby union has fallen into hard times recently, but now has a professional sports team with the Toronto Arrows. The team currently plays in Major League Rugby (MLR).

Canadian Rugby Women’s National Team

Canada Cup

The first-ever Canada Cup was in 1993. In this tournament, Canada faced three countries including Wales, the USA, and England. This competition took place across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). These cities included Ajax, Brampton, Markham, and Toronto.

In three games, Canada won one. This was their first game against Wales. Canada won that game 22-8 in Brampton. In Canada’s second game, they narrowly lost to England 8-12 in Ajax. This was an impressive showing considering that England were the favourites to win that match and eventually won the 1993 Canada Cup.

The last match for Canada was a disappointment. They were not able to keep the game competitive and lost 3-60 to the United States in Markham. However, 1993 was still a special year for the Canadian women’s rugby union team. The significance of the Canada Cup continued into the mid-2000s. There were tournaments in 1996, 2000, and 2005. Furthermore, Canada hosted the women’s version of the “Churchill Cup,” in 2003 and 2004 which in every way resembled the Canada Cup.

Canada Rugby League

The sport of rugby league in Canada was not very popular in 1993, but there was a  men’s national team. In 1993, they won against the Americans on the road at Lake Placid 14-54. However, they also lost at home in Ottawa 2-32 to the Americans. However, the men’s national team that existed in 1993 do not exist anymore.

The organization folded in 2000. The current national men’s rugby league team, the Canada Wolverines, started off as the Canada Mounties in 2010. They have no connection with the current Canadian men’s rugby league team. This is unlike the Canadian men’s and women’s national rugby union team, which has its national teams’ history traced back to 1993.

The Significance of 1993 to Canadian Rugby Fans

1993 was a big year for the Canadian rugby union fans. For the men’s, England toured Canada and played five games in British Columbia and Ontario. Furthermore, Canada was able to get a win over England in Burnaby, B.C. Lastly, Canada’s win over Wales is one of the most iconic moments in their history. It was the only win Canada had against Wales in competitive rugby union play.

It was also similar to the women’s national team. Canadian rugby union fans were treated to the first-ever Canada Cup. A cup that saw its last competition in 2005. In later editions, other rugby union nations like New Zealand participated in the Canada Cup. It showed how well Canada was doing at the biggest stage of women’s rugby union.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for rugby league in Canada. There was no women’s national rugby league team at the time. Lastly, not many Canadians were aware of the game of rugby league in 1993. However, the sport has become much more popular today with the Canada Ravens (women’s rugby league team) and the creation of the Toronto Wolfpack and the Ottawa Aces XIII.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images