|Photo BBC: Canadian Jeff Hassler scored for the Ospreys in the first half|
Starting for the Ospreys were Canadian international winger Jeff Hassler and back-rower Tyler Ardron. The pair were joined in the starting line-up by former USA age grade representative Hanno Dirksen. All three played the full 80 minutes for the Welsh region while Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe did so for the Glasgow Warriors. With USA born Tommy Seymour also starting on the wing for the Warriors the match was unique in that it had four starting North American wingers in a Celtic-Italian League match.
Neither Seymour nor Dirksen are to be USA Eagles though. Indeed Seymour made his debut for Scotland earlier this year and Dirksen is set to become a Welsh international in 2014. The losses to the USA are in no way small but with the USA Eagles currently having a growing list of notable outside backs there is reason to suggest that it will not be like years gone by. Blaine Scully, Chris Wyles and Taku Ngwenya are all starting for elite clubs this weekend while others have impressed for the Eagles since Rugby World Cup 2011.
Canada is in a similar position in terms of wingers as there are more players exposed to a higher level of rugby now than was the case in the years leading up to the World Cup in New Zealand. DTH van der Merwe was rare in being contracted to a professional side playing at the elite level but today the situation is much changed as more Canadians are playing professional rugby today and, importantly, they are getting game time.
Hassler´s move to Wales in conjunction with Phil MacKenzie playing for the Sale Sharks and van der Merwe for the Glasgow Warriors puts Canadian wingers in a much enhanced position and certainly provides the North Americans with an opportunity of having more success at breaking the opposition defence and scoring tries. With Canada pooled with France, Ireland and Italy in Rugby World Cup 2015 it is probable that the Italian match will be targeted with Canada looking to win that in addition to defeat the remaining European qualifier who could possibly be Romania.
All three of the Canadian international players involved in Friday night´s Rabo Direct Pro 12 match in Wales are likely to be starting for the national team at Rugby World Cup 2015. Their form so far this season is encouraging and both wingers scored well worked tries last night. Hassler finished off a break from Thomas Issacs to score in the 17th minute while van der Merwe went over in the second half to give the Scottish side the lead for the first time since Hassler´s try. van der Merwe showed intelligence to spot a lack of defenders and dive over inches before the corner flag from the base of a ruck.
Try Jeff Hassler
Try DTH van der Merwe