Saturday, May 19, 2012

Canada vs Wales 2009

York University, Toronto
One week after giving Ireland a good match in Vancouver in June 2009, Canada played hosted to Wales at York University in Toronto. Canada did well against Ireland but were unlucky to lose by the margin of 25-6. The Welsh had played the USA the previous week, winning 27-10 in Chicago but were given a good match by the Eagles. The tour took place while the British & Irish Lions were touring South Africa and as such neither Ireland nor Wales had its full squad of players avaliable. The games were, nevertheless, full internationals counting towards IRB World Rankings. Furthermore, the touring European sides were made up exclusively of full time professional players while the same could not be said of either Canada or the USA. In hosting Wales, Canada fieled a side with more amateur players than professionals and the country´ leading professional, Jamie Cudmore was absent as he was still on club duty with Clermont in the Top 14 play-off´s. 

The match proved to be a great international encounter as both sides scored two tries each and all four tries were scored by backs. Wales scored the only try of the first half to take a 16-9 halftime lead. Canada responded strongly after the interval, however as winger Phil Mack scored in the 42nd minute to tie the magtch at 16-16 with the conversion from James Pritchard. The Europeans responded with a try five minutes latter and with Dan Biggar kicking penalties Wales went clear to hold a 29-16 lead after 56 minutes. Canada´s second try gave the hosts hope as scrumhalf Ed Fairhurst went over in the 58th minute. The lead was cut to 29-23 with Pritchard´s conversion but the Canucks would not score again. Biggar would add another penalty in the 72nd minute, his sixth of the match, to make it 32-23 which was the final score. Wales used the match to play in an alternative strip, yellow allowing Canada to play in its official strip of red.

Such fixtures are precisely what Tier Two sides need if the likes of Canada and the USA can improve to make World Cup´s better. Following recent discussions both teams are soon to be confirmed in a new Pacific Nations Cup which will involve all non-European tier two teams. A competition involving Canada, Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and the United States of America will go a long way to helping bridge the gap and significantly improve the fixtures for the North Americans. With Italy visiting the Americas next month, Canada and the USA will have a great chance of hosting a top side and a similar fixture will be repeated in 2013 with Ireland visiting and then in 2014 with Ireland being the touring side. 

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