InternationalNational 15s

International rugby: Canada have to make Global repechage work

Rugby World Cup Ever-Present Canadians have one more chance to make the final roster of the World Cup in the Global repechange in November and they are not ready to gamble on that possibility too.

The North Americans lost 70-60 on aggregate to Uruguay earning the demotion to the repechage and a lucky last gasp effort in the same tournament. They will be coming up against the runners-up in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup, Germany and Hong Kong.

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY – FEBRUARY 03: Players of Canada line up during the national anthem before the Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifier match at Estadio Charrua on February 3, 2018 in Montevideo, Uruguay. (Photo by Agustin Marcarian – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Preparations for the Canadians start this weekend and the head coach, Kingsley Jones will have all the home based players at his disposal before the national team travels to play France against Castres and Clermont Auvergne, on August 11 and 17 respectively.

“The next few months are absolutely critical as we prepare for the repechage, and we are committed to doing everything possible to ensure we are prepared, both physically and mentally, to compete come November,” said Coach Jones.

“We are working diligently with our high-performance staff in Langford along with the overseas clubs to ensure our domestic-based athletes and overseas professionals are receiving top quality game-time and training to be match-fit over the next five months. I want to have a wider selection group to choose from in November to ensure the best players available take the field in the repechage tournament.”

Canada have been part of the World Cup since 1987 but face a steeper task this year to be able to make it Japan, but have, in coach Jones, a winner of repechange with Russia to make it to Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011.

“I think it would be an equal achievement. It (the repechage) is going to be an interesting little tournament. Hong Kong have just won seven on the trot and that helps with momentum. Germany have got a physical pack and are well-drilled so there will be some challenges there and if it’s going to be Kenya, they are a different type of team again,” Jones said.

Kenya’s Felix Ayange races to the try line to score against Uganda in a recent Gold Cup game.

“Canada have struggled in the last couple of years and trying to pull that back in a short space of time is a challenge for everybody involved here,” he continued. “I am still confident we will do it (qualify) but the message has to be to that it’s going to be tough.

“I don’t care who we face in the competition, we have to be ready and play well. We haven’t won three tests on the trot for goodness knows how long, and that’s probably what we have got to do. Our target is to win all three games, it’s as simple as that.”

With Namibia running away the Rugby Africa Gold Cup trophy, again, Kenya are in the fore front of making the repechage tournament as Africa 2 to compete against Hong Kong, Canada and Germany. Uganda and Tunisia come closest to upsetting the Kenyans conquest of a repechage appearance with the possibility of maximum points from the games (3) the two nations have to play before the end of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup. Mathematically, the chances that Uganda and Tunisia have and as slim and equivalent to those of Zimbabwe and Morocco in hoping to overlap the Kenyans. The repechage position as Africa 2 is Kenya’s to lose.

Even at their level, Coach Jones is still reserved on how his troops will make it and is hasty about the levsl of professionalism in Hong Kong and Kenya. The winner of the repechage will join champions New Zealand in Pool B, alongside South Africa and the winners of Rugby Africa Gold Cup.

“People have got to remember that we’ve got amateur players and we’re playing fully professional teams. When you look at Hong Kong, they are in training every morning for four hours,” said a concerned Jones.


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