Canada is the latest country to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2007 in France after it beat the USA 56-7 at Swilers Rugby Complex, St John’s in Newfoundland on Saturday in front of a 5000 crowd.
The comprehensive victory secured first place in Americas Round 3b qualifying following the victory over the USA and a previous victory over Barbados. The USA now progress to Round 3b where it will play home and away against Uruguay to decide the third and final qualifying spot for the Americas. Uruguay finished runner-up to Argentina in Americas Round 3a.
Canada qualifies as Americas 2 and joins the automatic qualifiers from RWC 2003 in Australia – quarter-finalists England, Australia, New Zealand, France, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and Wales – and Samoa (Oceania 1), Fiji (Oceania 2) and Argentina (Americas 1) in France. Later this year a further six qualifying places will de decided (Europe 1, Europe 2, Europe 3, Africa 1, Asia 1, Americas 3).
In France, Canada will play in Pool B along with Australia, Wales, Fiji and Asia 1. Canada kicks-off its finals campaign against Wales in Nantes on 9 September 2007 and will then play Fiji in Cardiff on 16 September, Asia 1 in Bordeaux on 25 September and Australia in Bordeaux on 25 September.
Canada coach Ric Suggitt was quietly confident before the game as he had a squad that included 10 players based in professional clubs in England and France. Post match he enthused at the performance, “I told the players that the Rugby World Cup was their Olympic Games and that being favourites meant nothing. They responded by playing rugby to our game plan for a full 80 minutes and it was a tremendous all round team performance.”
A philosophical USA Coach Peter Thorburn said the difference was due to the fact that, “we saw professionals against amateurs today. That was the fundamental difference. They controlled possession, were cleverer at the breakdown and broke down our defence on numerous occasions. We will regroup and do what we have to do to face Uruguay in the months ahead.”
USA had the first scoring opportunity but fly-half Mike Hercus missed his penalty attempt and moments later Canada scored the first of their seven tries on the six minute mark following a beautiful dummy from centre David Spicer 40 metres out that saw fullback Mike Pyke cross the line under the posts. Canada continued to press and scored a further two converted tries, including one to local hero and veteran prop Rod Snow, and two penalties to lead 27-0 after as many minutes.
USA tried hard but with little possession they were unable to gain any territory. They came close on two occasions to crossing the USA line late in the half but basic errors in the enemy twenty-two cost them dearly and Canada led 27-0 at the interval.
Canada continued to dominate the match in the second half as the forwards stayed on their feet, unloaded in the tackle and attacked down the fringes while the backs attacked from all areas of the field. Left wing James Pritchard scored a hat-trick of well-taken tries with replacement flyhalf Derek Daypuck also scoring. Prichard was also on form with the boot and his total tally for the match was 36 points (three tries, six conversions and three penalties).
The USA did score a consolation try to hard working flanker Todd Clever mid-way through the second half which Hercus converted.
“It’s great to have qualified and to now have certainty about our playing schedule moving forward. Now we can concentrate on our plans for France 2007. This squad was our strongest and it will form the core of our squad for RWC 2007 next year,” added Suggitt.
Canada 56: J Prichard 3, M Pyke, R Snow, S-M Stephen, D Daypuck tries; J Prichard 6 conversions 3 penalties.
USA 7: T Clever try; M Hercus conversion.
Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)