The future of rugby in North America looks to be in great shape as Canada and the United States of America put on a thrilling match this afternoon in Canadas largest city, Toronto. Regardless of the result, the match was a huge success even before kick-off as the Canadian public responded to the occassion by breaking the attendance record for a Canada vs USA match. But it was to be the quality of rugby was would matter. Without good rugby the success of the match could have been questioned. The teams delivered and the USA Eagles underlined their substantial progress in recent years as they pushed Canada all the way. Over the years results in Canada have overwhelmingly been in favor of the Canadians but now with more players than ever playing professionally the USA Eagles is on par with Canada and can only get better as the profile of rugby rises with the success of the USA Sevens in Las Vegas, Nevada and the live coverage of rugby on television in the country.
Canada won the match by six points but had to come from behind after the USA were leading 15-10 at the interval. But it was moer a case of the USA losing than Canada winning as basic mistakes handed Canada two tries and Canada´s third try also should not not have been a try. The USA Eagles will, indeed, feel like they have themselves to blame. Canada had started the game well and London Irish bound backrower, Jebb Sinclair gave the crowd at BMO Field in Toronto plenty to cheer about when he went over for thegames first try in the 6th minute. Canadian winger, James Pritchard slotted the conversion to put Canada ahead 7-0. The USA Eagles hit back soon thereafter as flyhalf Nese Malifa slotted a penalty goal in the 10th minute. The USA then dominated proceedings for the next 25 minutes and came away with two tries. The world famous, Taku Ngwenya predictably score the first try for the USA as touched down in the 23rd minute. Nalifa converted it to put the USA ahead 10-7. Ten minutes latter the USA scored again as captain, Todd Clever, scored an impressive try. Canada, however, fought back well and Pritchard cut the lead to five points with his second pernalty of the half in the 38th minute.
Canada were again the better side to open the half as England based winger, Phil Mackenzie, scored a try in the 44th minute. Pritchard´s conversion attempt was successful and Canada went ahead 17-15. The Canadians then looked to take control of the game when Pritchard slotted a penalty in the 55th minute and four minutes latter scrumhalf, Ed Fairhurst ran clear to score Canada´s third try. Pritchard missed the conversion attempt but Canada had gone ten points clear. The USA fought back hard but had problems with flyhalf Nese Malifa leaving the fielded injured. Todd Clever showed just how important he is to the USA and despite Canada looking like having the game wrapped up, he succeeded in motivating his players and with three minutes to play he, himself, silenced the Canadian crowd as he scored his second try. Tai Enosa added the extras to make it a three point game but Canada held firm and Pritchard slooted a late penalty goal to win the match 28-22 for Canada.
The two sides meet again next Saturday in Glendale, Colorado as they seek to finalize their plans for Rugby World Cup 2011. Today´s match suggests that both sides should indeed succeed in winning matches in New Zealand 2011.
1. Hubert Buydens (Prarie Wolfpack)
2. Pat Riordan captain (BC Bears)
3. Jason Marshall (BC Bears)
4. Brian Erichsen (BC Bears)
5. Jamie Cudmore (Clermont, France)
6. Jebb Sinclair (London Irish, England)
7. Chauncey O'Toole (The Rock)
8. Aaron Carpenter Plymouth Albion, England)
9. Ed Fairhurst (BC Bears)
10. Ander Monro (Ontario Blues)
11. James Pritchard (Bedford, England)
12. Mike Scholz (Ontario Blues)
13. Daniel van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland)