Tuesday, January 13, 2015

International Rugby: Canada Rugby Tries 2014

Photo The Province
2014 was a frustrating year for Canadian international rugby. The North Americans dropped in the World Rankings and failed to capitalize on chances not only at a noteworthy home win over Scotland in Toronto but also in matches against four Tier Two countries - Japan, the USA, Samoa and Romania. While the team was not able to win as many fixtures as expected there were nonetheless some impressive tries scored both by backs and forwards. A combination of skill, speed and strength was involved in Canada's tries in 2014.   

In the year 2014 Canada's international men's rugby team played a lowly total of six test matches. The reason for a lack of international competition was that Canada does not have a comparable tournament to that of the European Nations Cup which sees the competitors playing five tests from February-March every year. Indeed all six of Canada's matches were positioned in the international player release windows of June and November. 

Of the six tests two were at home and four away. Canada opened up against Japan in the Pacific Nations Cup and also faced the USA in a tournament match in June. In between these matches Canada hosted Scotland. The Canadians scored good tries in all three matches but were unable to win a test. 

Canada's June campaign was therefore winless for the first time in the mid-year internationals in the professional era. Both Japan and the USA demonstrated remarkable improvements to that of several years prior while Scotland, as a Tier One fully-professional team was a tough assignment yet Canada came close. Canada's lack of luck in June was apparent in all test matches as the North Americans had strong shots during all matches of winning them. 

In November the Canadians played three away tests of which two were played in a neutral country. Canada faced Namibia in Wales and Samoa in France before bringing the tour to a close with a test match against Romania at Bucharest. Before facing Namibia Canada had played an uncapped warm-up fixture against a RFU Championship XV select team in England. 

Headcoach Kieran Crowley rotated players in Europe and never fielded Canada's top side. Some returned home after facing Namibia to rest ahead of Rugby Sevens duty while others were experimented as this tour was Canada's final time playing test rugby outside of North America before Rugby World Cup 2015. 

An unconvincing Canadian performance against Namibia was enough to complete a narrow victory but it was followed by Canada getting itself in a position to defeat Samoa only to fail to convert chances and hand the Pacific Islanders tries. The final test was then a disappointment as the North Americans were unable to score a try which saw Romania completing back-to-back victories over Canada. 

The lack of positive outcomes cost the Canadians in the World Rankings as the North Americans finished the year ranked 18th behind both the USA and Romania. It means that Canada begin the year ranked bottom in Pool D of Rugby World Cup 2015. Canada is the only non-European team in a group consisting of France, Ireland, Italy and Romania. 

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