For a country who ranks consistently at 13 as decided by the IRB (International Rugby Board) one would think they are pretty darn good. Well, they ought to be, seeing as there are only 95 official unions in the IRB. But here's a little truth: Canada sucks.
Canada has had its ups and down, reaching the quarter final in the 1991, finally winning a game in the 2009 Churchill cup against a team that was not the US to name a few proud moments we can all be proud of.
Many Canadians however may be still stunned or frustrated by the 2007 world cup campaign.
Two games that could have landed them in third place in their pool (did you really expect them to beat the Aussies guys?) landed them in a place where even that kid who always wore the duntz cap in your grad 3 class would be ashamed of: Yes, last.
Ever since that year of 2007 it seems that the Canadian national team has been slipping, and can it be credited to losing a game to Fiji and Japan each that they could have easily won?
The answer is no, a problem like this can easily be changed by coaching adjustments, some moral fixing and maybe a little less point shaving (just kidding). The problem lies within the domestic game.
Canada has a population of about 33,779,000 in the second largest land mass in the world. As most would imagine, it must be very hard to scout talent in conditions like this, —and it is.
There is also a lack of players in the country, falling short to Hockey and other North American sports. In my experience, most players only play in high school, mostly to keep in shape for their football and hockey seasons both in the summer and the spring.
Speaking of high school rugby players, high school rugby is almost as bad as watching Harry Ellis passing a rugby ball. A solution to this is better funding in the high school game. It is Canada's highest rugby market, where most players learn their trade, so why not do them better and actually put some money into it?—Think of the kids.
This is a big problem because limited interest equals limited TV coverage and limited funding. TV coverage is a big loss because it develops interest in non-players and players alike. Unfortunately, loss of money doesn't reward the interest of broadcasters.
As most of you should already know, the Canadian Super league was Canada's second tier rugby competition. Even though now defunct, the Canadian Super League was where Canada's best players performed (excluding the NA4).
It was a sham. 6 games per season is not enough time to perform to a player’s greatest ability, nor can a player have much of a development process. The lack of game time can be credited to be the weather.
Long winters do not suit rugby, or most team sports for that matter, especially a Canadian winter. But like most problems, this one can be solved. A Canadian rugby season usually runs from late April to the end of August (play offs in September), why not extend this season from March to early November?
That can be one answer, but there are hundreds of different answers for this question.
How do we make Canadian rugby better? A suitable competitor against European teams such as Italy and Scotland.
With a government that funds it's athletic representatives Canadian rugby is doing alright with the lack of permanent stadia and lack of revenue. Quality players are being easier to find with the slow increase of players coming through from high school rugby. Maybe only time will tell, but one day our Canucks will become quarter finalists again.
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