Woeful Canada Drop The Ball

Tim Stanfill United States USA Select XV Canada Americas Rugby Championship ARCCanada fell to their closest rivals once again as the Select XV held the home side tryless in a dreadful advertisement for North American rugby. In fact Canadian fans might have some difficulty remembering a game in which their team performed so ineptly, made all the worse considering it was played at the Rugby Canada Centre of Excellence in Langford. When a result like this occurs it can be tricky to assign blame. The Americans were far from exceptional, so that leaves the management and the players themselves.

Fingers have to be pointed at the questionable selections from Kieran Crowley. The halfback combination of Jamie Mackenzie and Gordon McRorie looked a failure from the start against Uruguay, and yet it was persisted with for the entirety of this match as well. Patrick Parfrey was never going to compliment McRorie’s preference to attack the gainline, just as Derek Daypuck hadn’t the game before, and with Mackenzie having another shocker it was bad gone worse.

It’s hard not to feel for poor Pat Kay, one of the country’s exceptional young backline talents. After spending the entire CRC playing and training as a no10, he’s been hung out to dry at fullback and will have nightmares about that performance. Moving him to the midfield, where he wouldn’t be so exposed, would have been a far preferable option. What makes it worse is that the form fullback in the country has been stuck on the wing, another questionable decision forced by the failure to reward any of a number of wingers who impressed this summer. Why were Jake Webster and Jordan Wilson-Ross sent to the Gold Coast to sit on the bench?

The forwards faired a little better, showing well in the scrums, but the lineouts were a shambles from the get-go. Things were so bad that it prompted commentator Bob Ross, the former international flyhalf, to suggest that they take a quick tap penalty from inside their own end, for fear of handing over possession once again. Gareth Rees, the national program manager of Rugby Canada, audibly questioned how the team could look so ill-prepared after a more than adequate pre-tournament training camp. Not exactly a vote of confidence for head coach Crowley, and surely some words were spoken in the aftermath.

Some credit had to be given to Mike Tolkin’s side. They defended very well, often stuffing runners behind the advantage line. Outstanding flanker Kyle Sumsion led the way with some fearsome tackles, making a clear statement that he wants to be involved against the All Blacks in Chicago. The kicking game from Adam Siddall was rudimentary but accurate and made effective by Canada’s inability to catch the ball cleanly.

Both of the American tries were scored by Tim Stanfill, a lightning fast winger making his first start in an Eagle jersey. The Vancouver, Washington, native has been knocking on the door of national selection for three years now, and it seems incredible that he hasn’t been given an opportunity until now. At least two other tries were left on the field, one of which was a walk-in try for Tim Maupin if he hadn’t dropped the ball.

It was an embarrassing night for Rugby Canada, one that must have repercussions. At least the Americans can look forward to ending on a high with a winnable match against Uruguay up next. The Canadians will have to lift their performance against Argentina, an unenviable task against another side looking to rebound from a sub-par Wednesday outing. Crowley has to think carefully about selection – it’s the last match before the November tour, and past time for World Cup prep to kick into high gear.

Wednesday, October 15, 20:00 PST, Langford

10 mins – T. Stanfill try 0-5
21 mins – A. Siddall pen 0-8
45 mins – G. McRorie pen 3-8
59 mins – T. Stanfill try 3-13
71 mins – A. Siddall pen 3-16

44 mins – A. Suniula yellow (foul play)
67 mins – R. Hamilton yellow (team infringements)

P. Kay (A. Coe 77); S. Ferguson, N. Blevins, P. Parfrey (J. Wilson-Ross 45), D. Moor (D. Daypuck HT); G. McRorie, J. Mackenzie; T. Dolezel (J. Smith 52), R. Barkwill (R. Hamilton 59), D. Wooldridge (P. Houlihan 74); A. Flagg (A. Cejvanovic 76), E. Olmstead; N. Dala (C. Morrison HT), K. Gilmour (capt.), S. Pearson (R. Barkwill 74).

T. Hall; T. Stanfill, C. London (F. Niua 54), A. Suniula, T. Maupin (Z. Test 76); A. Siddall, S. Suniula; N. Wallace (B. Tarr 70), P. Thiel (capt.), O. Kilifi; J. Cullen, B. Doyle; L. Stanfill, K. Sumsion (B. Pinkelman 70), M. Trouville (A. Durutalo 72).

Referee: J. Sylvestre (UAR)
Assistants: D. Smortchevsky (RC) & H. Mason (RC)

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