Monday, June 23, 2008

Churchill Cup '08 home-and-hosed

The annual Churchill Cup wrapped up Saturday with Plate, Bowl and Cup Finals played at Toyota Park in Chicago, home of the MLS franchise Chicago Fire. (Wouldn't it be cool to see Canada play future test matches at downtown Toronto's swanky new cosmopolitan BMO Field -- home of Toronto FC -- instead of the dowdy temp stands of Fletcher's Fields next to the cornfields of rural Markham? I digress...)

In the curtain-raiser, Ireland 'A' ran roughshod over Argentina XV, claiming the Plate Final 33-8.

In the tight Cup Final, England Saxons were too good for Scotland 'A' and drew away late to win 36-19, in a match that was closer than the score indicated.

The most exciting game of the afternoon/early evening was the 5th/6th-place Bowl Final, contested between Canada and the United States Eagles, and the only full Test caps awarded for any game of the tournament. The United States led 10-nil at the break, but American coach Scott Johnson conceeded his team was shot at the break, telling SKY TV he'd never seen such a tired group slog back to the changing shed. A fiery halftime sermon must have been delivered by new Canadian coach Kieran Crowley, as the Canadians stormed back in the second half to claim 26 straight unanswered points through a pair of tries each to flanker Nanyak Dala (Man o' the Match) and center Ryan Smith to claim a handsome 26-10 test victory over their biggest rival. Truthfully, Canada's 2nd-half performance, especially in terms of continuity and commitment, was the best Canadian performance that I have seen in years. Congrats to Crowley and the boys -- Onward and Upward!

Rugby Canada has a full report with video. Click here.


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