Team Guide – Canada
WORLD RANKING: 18
SUMMED UP IN THREE WORDS: Youthful, Unpracticed, Unconfident
THE HEAD COACH: Former All Black Kieran Crowley took over as head coach of Canada following their disappointing World Cup campaign in 2007. Since taking charge, the 54-year old has come runners-up in the Churchill Cup twice in 2010 and 2011 as well as a runner-up in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2013. However, Crowley’s men finished in last place at this year’s installment of the Pacific Nations Cup, which is far from ideal heading into the World Cup.
FAMILIAR FACES: Sale Sharks wing Phil Mackenzie is a recognizable face to many rugby fans, as is veteran brute second-row Jamie Cudmore, who plays his club rugby with Clermont.
KEY PLAYER: Impressive physical specimen Tyler Ardron leads the Canucks aged 24 and is a versatile forward whose shown he can play flanker and number 8 effectively for Ospreys. He also offers the physicality to the starting XV that is a treasured trait by Canadian rugby fans.
YOUNG GUN: Ospreys 24-year old speedster Jeff Hassler faced a lengthy lay-off at the start of 2015 but has recovered successfully to join the Canucks World Cup squad. The wing, who can also§ fill in either centre position, has scored three tries in 15 Test outings.
STYLE: Under Crowley Canada has played with an unpredictable, attack-minded style, which is different to the defencive brand they have played in previous years.
BEST RWC MOMENT: Against the odds Canada reached the knockout stages in 1991, with their legendary fly-half Gareth Rees at the fore. They proudly went out to New Zealand in the quarter-final but did manage to score two tries against the All Blacks, with Al Charron and Chris Tynan touching down.
WORST RWC MOMENT: The World Cup in 2007 was a disaster for the Canucks as they lost three of their Pool games, drawing the other against Japan. That World Cup to date is the only where Canada have failed to record a victory.
COMMENTATOR’S GO-TO FACT: Canada fly-half Gareth Rees was the first man to play in four World Cups, playing in his first as a teenager in 1987 before representing the Canucks again at the 1991, 1995 and 1999 installments.
EXPECTATIONS: Canada are a very proud rugby nation and despite their pitiful form in the build-up to the World Cup will be hopeful of recording at least one win in the Pool stage.
VIEW FROM THE STANDS: John, 40, Toronto
Are you excited for the World Cup? Very, it is something I always get excited about before a ball is even kicked. There is nothing quite like watching international rugby.
Are you worried by Canada’s form heading into it? Not really, I think we have some good players and a good coach in Kieran Crowley.
What games are you looking forward too? Ireland at Millennium in the boy’s first game is going to be fantastic. The atmosphere there is electric
Who do you think will win it? Australia I think, you find with the Rugby World Cup it is hardly ever the obvious winners so that rules out New Zealand and England.
RUCK VERDICT: Canada, seeded 18th, is the lowest-ranked team in Pool D and for good reason. They had an incredibly weak Pacific Nations Cup display finishing last while dropping all-time top points scorer James Pritchard from a squad that includes 18 World Cup debutants seems like a bizarre decision. They will finish bottom of the Pool.
19/09/2015: Ireland vs. Canada, Millennium Stadium (Cardiff). Kick off 14:30
26/09/2015: Italy vs. Canada, Elland Roads (Leeds). Kick off 14:30
01/10/2015: France vs. Canada, StadiumMK (Milton Keynes). Kick off 20:00
06/10/2015: Canada vs. Romania. Leicester City Stadium. Kick off 16:45
Total travelling between games: 433 miles
Forwards: Tyler Ardron (Captain), Ray Barkwill, Brett Beukeboom, Hubert Buydens, Aaron Carpenter, Jamie Cudmore, Nanyak Dala, Kyle Gilmour, Jason Marshall, John Moonlight, Evan Olmstead, Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru, Jebb Sinclair, Richard Thorpe, Andrew Tiedemann, Doug Wooldridge
Backs: Conor Trainor, Liam Underwood, DTH van der Merwe, Jeff Hassler, Ciaran Hearn, Nathan Hirayama, Harry Jones, Phil Mack, Jamie Mackenzie, Phil Mackenzie, Matt Evans, Nick Blevins, Connor Braid, Gordon McRorie