RWC 2011 Team Preview: Canada

Canada at Churchill Cup Finals Day 2011

Rugby World Cup Pedigree:

Canada have a strong history in the World Cup and the men from North America have always been regulars at the competition. The country has been at every World Cup since its inception and many of their players have become legends in their own right because of the tournament, Gareth Rees probably being one of the most famous. But since the beginning of professionalism they have struggled slightly. Nevertheless, the Canucks rarely give less than 100 per cent and will be bringing their own brand of rugby to the land of the long white cloud.

Track Record:

Canada’s first ever match was as convincing as any of the Tier One nations at the time as they saw off Tonga – who they will also face this time around – 37-4 but they came crashing back to earth in the next game as they went down to Ireland 46-19 (oddly enough the same day yours truly was born). That pattern tended to repeat itself in the years to come as they matched solid wins with devastating losses, from the dizzying heights of a quarter final in 1991, to their worst result last time around where they failed to clinch a win for the first time in their history.

Best Rugby World Cup moment:

1991 was almost certainly the country’s golden era when it comes to the World Cup. They opened with a win over Fiji before seeing off Romania to book an early place in the quarter finals before narrowly losing to France by just six points. They then had the unenviable task of taking on defending champions New Zealand, going down 29-13 but scoring two tries in the process.

Biggest Rugby World Cup win: 72-11 v Nambia (October 4, 1999)
Biggest Rugby World Cup defeat: 68-6 v New Zealand (October 17, 2003)

Key player:

Aaron Carpenter is one of the more experienced players for Canada in this year’s tournament. He was a member of the 2007 squad and many will remember him making a solid break as a substitute from the back of the scrum at the last tournament and galloping almost half way up the field, only to be called back. Now he is a starter and is likely to be one of the players younger members of the squad look towards for leadership.

One to watch:

Flanker Jebb Sinclair has recently signed for London Irish so his talent has already been spotted by Toby Booth et al. At 24-years old he isn’t the youngest member of the team (that accolade goes to Taylor Paris at 18). He had a storming start to Canada’s recent warm-up match against USA, making a break early on but was pushed into touch before piling over just minutes later to score. Often omnipresent across the field he is likely to cause defensive lines many issues in the loose if given the right ball.

Rugby World Cup Fixtures:

v Tonga (September 14, 17.00)

v France (September 18, 20:30)

v Japan (September 27, 17:00)

v New Zealand (October 2, 15:30)

Key Clash:

Canada were denied a win against Japan in their final match in the 2007 edition of the tournament so will be chomping at the bit to get revenge. On their day they are a match for Tonga as well, although could well fall short given the amount of experience the Pacific Islanders have in Tier One competition. If they can see off Japan and push France close, winning a bonus point, they could sneak into third place and an automatic spot to the 2015 tournament. They may even have a few tricks up their sleeve against the All Blacks with a Kiwi influence in coach Kieran Crowley, although a win is almost certainly beyond their reach.

Odds: Don’t rush to the bookies. 2000/1

Canada coach Kieran Crowley says:
“Composure for me is just doing all your homework and making sure when you go out on the field that you’re ready for any situation that comes up.”

Canada Pat Riordan says:
“We’ve spent more time trying to find guys whose main goal is to play for Canada.”


The side will want to be picking up at least one win this time around, and the match against Japan will be their main aim in New Zealand. They play Tonga first after their Pacific rivals take on the hosts so, depending on what side Tonga send out, they could pick up an opportunistic win. Having said that it may be a bridge to far for them this time around.

Position: Pool stages

by Nick Winn