PREVIEW – Rugby Canada looks to qualify for the 2021 Rugby World Cup next Saturday against their rivals USA Rugby. Leg one of the North Americas qualifiers ended with a 34-21 victory for the Canucks in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. This means that even a Canadian loss would allow them to qualify depending on the result in leg two. However, the U.S. will feel they have something to prove as they have home advantage on September 11.
Rugby Canada looks to advance on the road against Rugby USA
— USA Rugby (@USARugby) September 4, 2021
Rugby Canada did not start leg one well in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. They were in fact trailing at halftime and needed a spark in the second half. This is what Rugby Canada coach Kingsley Jones said about the game according to The Canadian Press.
“The most positive thing is the way we improved through the game and the growth in the players,” said Jones.
What this game also showed is the influence of the Toronto Arrows. 11 of the 23 players on the Rugby Canada roster are from the Arrows. For some people that may seem like a disadvantage. However, the plus to that is that the Arrows players know how each team plays with each other. Two of the five tries scored in the game were Arrows players: Ben LeSage and Lucas Rumball.
However, Canada will feel hard done by the end of the game. They allowed the U.S. to get a late try and improve their hopes of advancing past Canada in the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
Canada wins! Incredible performance from Canada in their first Rugby World Cup 2023 Qualification Pathway match against @USARugby! 🍁
— Rugby Canada (@RugbyCanada) September 4, 2021
USA Rugby may have lost the game but was able to get a try late in the game to make their task a little less difficult on September 11. The USA Eagles was dominated by Rugby Canada in the second half. This included giving up the first three tries in the second half.
Looking at the U.S. Rugby World Cup qualifying roster, a lot of the players from the U.S. like Canada come from Major League Rugby. The main difference though is that many of those players play for different teams in MLR. This is a luxury that Canada does not really have right now. However, it can also be a curse. The players are not used to playing with each other and it can show in the game itself.
USA have put themselves in a difficult position against Canada in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers. However, as Rugby Canada coach Jones has said, he expects nothing easy from the U.S. on Saturday according to The Canadian Press.
“It’s about us going there and being ready. And being humble… It’s going to be a totally different thing next week,” he added. “A totally different environment and a totally different challenge. The U.S.A. is going to be a lot better. So we need to be a lot better.”
Rugby Canada vs. USA Rugby Game Overview
Cam Dolan, who got injured before the first leg against Canada said this about the rivalry between the two countries according to the Rugby World Cup:
“It is a rivalry, our biggest rivalry, and there is World Cup qualification on the line. It is not just summer-friendly.”
— Toronto Arrows RFC (@TorontoArrows) November 2, 2018
These two nations share professional sports leagues in a variety of sports like rugby league, union, basketball, soccer, box lacrosse, ice hockey, and the list goes on. It is not just that both Canada and the U.S. are neighbouring countries.
Sports-wise they share similar interests in sports played, consumed, watched. As a result, they share a lot of rivalries in sports like box lacrosse, ice hockey, and rugby union. Lastly, both teams are ranked quite closely to each other. The Canadians are currently ranked 21st in the world while the U.S. is ranked 17th in the world (according to World Rugby).
The 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifying format and where to watch the game
The winner of this two-leg aggregate will face Uruguay for the Americas 1 spot. This is while the loser of this game will play for the Americas 3 spot against Chile, which is also a two-leg aggregate. Argentina already qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup because they finished third place in the group stage of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Let’s finish the job next Saturday in Colorado. 🇨🇦 https://t.co/L38HUOOzcQ
— Brock Smith (@brocktsmith) September 4, 2021
Continuing the momentum from leg one will be key for Canada. Even if they lose by 12 points in leg two, they can face Uruguay for the top spot in the Americas. The key for Canada is to be solid defensively. If the U.S. is not getting their way, they will need to score and score quickly. A win is not enough for them to advance in the 2023 Rugby World Cup qualifiers. However, this also means that the U.S. might be vulnerable defensively, something Canada could take advantage of.
The game will be streamed live on Premier Sports in Canada. The game will be shown at 9:00 p.m. ET and 6:00 p.m. PT. The game will take place at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado.
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