Sunday, April 01, 2007

Monday Morning "Go Canada Go!"

August 14, 2006

The hometown St. John's Telegram reports on the big Canada victory on Saturday:

Fan-tastic win for Canada

Sunday, August 13, 2006
The Telegram

Everything James Pritchard touched turned to gold Saturday as Canada overwhelmed the United States 56-7 to clinch a berth in rugby’s World Cup in front of close to 5,000 rowdy, partisan fans at Swilers Complex in St. John’s.

Pritchard scored a national-team record 36 points and local hero Rod Snow scored a try in what might have been his final game in a Canadian jersey in a stunning rout of the Americans.

The win over the Eagles qualifies Canada for the 2007 World Cup in France, where it will compete in a pool with Australia, Fiji, Wales and the qualifier from Asia. The U.S. still has a chance to qualify for France, but the Americans will have to beat Uruguay in September in a home-and-away series.

“Absolutely fantastic effort from the team,’’ said Pritchard, who scored three tries and kicked three penalties and six conversions.

“That’s the best performance I’ve seen from this team.

“We’ve been working all week trying to get our game down pat. We hadn’t been worried about the U.S. and what they we’re going to do,” he said.

As it turned out, the Americans could do very little against an inspired Canadian defence that faltered only once over 80 minutes.

Pritchard— who also held the previous Canadian scoring record, 29 points against Barbados earlier this year — was happy to help, but he wasn’t about to take a bow for his outstanding performance.

“I definitely can’t take credit for those tries,’’ he said modestly. “The boys did all the hard work. I was just on the end of some good play.

“The boys played fantastic defence. We set a goal to stop the Americans in everything they did and we did that today. We had one little mishap, allowing them to score seven points, but that was it.”

Canada dominated every facet of the game in beating the U.S. by the biggest margin of victory in the over 40 matches between the two North American rivals. The Canadian players and coaches give a large measure of credit for that margin to the fans who jammed Swilers Saturday.

“This is the atmosphere we wanted to be here,” said Canadian coach Ric Suggitt just before being doused with a bucket of Gatorade by one of his players.

“We wanted to play here and credit to the fans for supporting us and making us more than welcome. Go ask the U.S.A. players how it felt for them out there today. Our guys worked hard for the 10 days we were here and today was their reward.”

Suggitt said the crowd came into play early in the match when U.S. fly half Mike Hercus missed a penalty kick at the four-minute mark with the fans screaming at him.

Two minutes later, Mike Pyke touched down for Canada’s first try of the match and then the big crowd went crazy when Snow rumbled 10 yards for his eighth try in a Canadian uniform at the 13-minute mark.

“Our guys rode that energy all the way through. After that miss, we took the ball down the field and scored. And then when Rod Snow scored the second one, that really lifted the crowd into it,” said Suggitt.

After Pritchard booted two penalties, Sean Michael-Stephen’s try and a Pritchard convert gave Canada a 27-0 half-time lead. Derek Daypuck had the other Canadian try. Todd Clever had the lone U.S. try and it was well earned.

Snow was not the only Canadian player in uniform with a Newfoundland connection.

Early in the second half, when there was no doubt about the game’s outcome, hundreds of fans near the Canadian began chanting: “We want Webb, We want Webb,” referring to Canadian substitute Mike Webb, the British Columbia native who plays for The Rock in the Rugby Canada Super League.

The crowd roared when Suggitt finally put Webb, who has captained Canada in the past, into the match.

The Canadian coach smiled when asked if there was any pressure from the spectators to give Webb some minutes before the game ended.

“No, no pressure to put Webby in. He’s a great kid and credit to Pat Parfrey and The Rock for giving him the opportunity to play here in (St. John’s),” said Suggitt.

Webb said the feeling he got when he got into the game was unbelievable.

“I could hear everyone cheering and anytime to can get on the field and represent your country with the crowd cheering your name... it was an unbelievable experience.”

Webb said the crowd fed on Canada’s early success and “gave us a tonne of energy. The crowd did play a big part today and I thank them for it.”

While the fans loved to see Webb get to play, they went wild when Snow came out of the game late in the second half.

“Technically we were very sound,’’ said Snow, who earned his 57th cap for Canada and joined Canadian captain Morgan Williams in accepting the Can-Am Trophy after the match.

“We didn’t leave any tries on the field. Every opportunity we got we took it and, at the end of the day, we finished them off.”

Snow left the door open just a crack in terms of suiting up for Canada again.

“It’s a tough decision to make. If I had to make the decision today, I don’t know how I could possibly be a part of the 2007 World Cup. But you never know. I guarantee you, I won’t be thinking about it tonight.

“It’s all been pretty special today,’’ he continued. “How do you describe it? How do you put it into words? It’s a nice feeling and I’ve got a lot of people to thank for it.”

Pritchard, like several of his Canadian teammates, praised the crowd for its support throughout the match.

“These Newfoundlanders ... I’ve never seen a crowd like this,’’ he said. “They are just nuts. They absolutely love their rugby. Everywhere you turn, people are screaming and yelling for Canada.”

The fans, especially the ones behind the Eagles’ bench, were pretty tough on the visitors, but they did sing the Star Spangled Banner almost as enthusiastically as O Canada and the Ode to Newfoundland prior to the start of the game.

The Canadian players jogged around the field after the match and applauded the fans who gave them such overwhelming support from start to finish.

Hundreds of fans were still mingling with several Canadian players on the field long after the final whistle had sounded.

It seemed as if everyone wanted to soak in the moment for as long as possible. No one wanted to go home.

Source: The Telegram

canada crystal ball

What does Canada's World Cup qualifying win over USA in Newfoundland on Saturday mean?

It means that Canada gets a berth into the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, specifically POOL B, as the "Americas 2" entry.

The USA Eagles, meanwhile, have some work to do. They need to play Uruguay home-and-away and get either the Americas 3 berth or a Repechage placing.

  • You can read the full details of the 2007 Rugby World Cup - Americas qualification here.

  • Perhaps most significantly for Canada, it means they get a berth and a possible berth at a quarterfinal that might otherwise have been impossible.

    Let's cast an eye over the crystal ball and look at the RWC 2007 pools.

    POOL A

    South Africa
    Americas 3
    Repechage 2

    If the Eagles qualify, this is the most likely pool they will be drawn. The two teams moving on to the Quarter-Finals are a foregone conclusion: England and South Africa. The only question is which of those pair advances as group winner. The Eagles stand no chance of defeating either side, nor for that matter Samoa. Bottomline: Two teams battling for two spots. Too close to call - they meet September 14, 2007. Nobody else stands a chance of advancing out of this group.

    POOL B

    Americas 2: CANADA
    Asia 1 (presumably JAPAN)

    This is the most wide-open pool of the World Cup.

    Australia will win and advance. The question is which Wallaby team shows up -- world beaters one week, pretenders the next. Wales have to be front-runners for 2nd-place and they are the only team with a hope of beating the Wallabies. But this is a Wales team that could beat the Wallabies -- doubtful, but here's the point -- and then the next week get beaten by Fiji, who could in turn get beaten by Japan. This group is wide open. I can see Canada defeating Japan and Fiji. Which means a 2nd Wales loss and ... well, the Red Terror is investigating the tie-breaker procedure and will see what this means. If a tie-breaker is decided by points, let's hope James Pritchard keeps the records ticking over. It could mean a QF berth against the winner of Pool A on October 7, 2007! Bottomline: Group winners are Australia. Four-way battle for 2nd spot - Edge: Wales.

    POOL C

    New Zealand
    Europe 1 (presumably Italy)
    Europe 2
    Repechage 1

    Group winner will be New Zealand. Two-way battle for 2nd spot between Scotland and Italy. Their September 29, 2007 match will determine who advances. Edge: Scotland.

    POOL D

    Europe 3
    Africa 1

    This could be the best pool at the World Cup. Hosts France will advance, and probably in first place of their pool, but that is by no means assured. Argentina and Ireland will have a lot to say; theirs is the final test on the last day of all pool stage competition, September 30, 2007, and will be immense. Too close to call.

  • RWC Draw.

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