Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Times Online: Whither Canada

Patrick Kidd at The Times Online (U.K.) has posted a blog entry about Canadian rugby getting short-changed and their fans getting the shaft, with a nice hat-tip to Yours Truly. The Times also allows comments on their posts, so if you have anything to say, by all means take a few minutes and type something. Maybe - somebody at the iRB will read it.

Times Online
June 1, 2007

Wither Canada?

It's three finals for the price of one at Twickenham tomorrow as the Barclays Churchill Cup reaches its conclusion. Although six teams began this tournament, the final day of action will feature only, er, six as Canada play the USA in the Churchill Cup Bowl, Ireland A play Scotland A in the Churchill Cup Plate and England Saxons play New Zealand Maori in the Churchill Cup Cup.

Is this a way to give Canada a chance of some silverware? It is sad that they are not in contention given that the tournament was created for them, to give the North American sides a regular taste of decent competition. The first Churchill Cup, between Canada, the US and a developmental England side, took place in Vancouver in 2003 and it hosted matches in the first four Cups, choosing to play over here this year largely because it would give them experience of European conditions with the World Cup in France in September.

I have a soft spot for the Canadian rugby team and their supporters, having shared an empty stadium with them back in 1999. It was the 1999 World Cup and Romania were playing the USA at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, hardly the biggest draw of the tournament. I recall there were 3000 of us there, and I was entertained by a large group of Romanian "fans" decked in the Romanian outfits and waving Romanian flags. It turned out they were Canadians, who were simply there to boo the Yanks.

Canada qualified with ease for this year's World Cup but some of their fans feel almost as gloomy as England supporters. Dave Fisher, at The Red Terror blog, is worth visiting. He has some forthright and detailed views on why his side are struggling and will continue to struggle (look under May 22). Above all, he is annoyed that, for the first time, the Rugby World Cup will not be broadcast on mainstream television in Canada, and that fans will have to go to pay per view or watch the match in a pub (hmm, what chance of any pubs showing rugby...?). Nor is the Churchill Cup being televised. And, to cap it all, there seems to be some national outcry about a Canadian child being killed during a rugby match. As Mr Fisher says, this combination seems sure to kill off interest in the sport among the young. It is a sad state of affairs.

Posted by Patrick Kidd on June 01, 2007 at 07:16 PM Permalink



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