TOKYO – Canada may be facing a hiding of historic proportions when they face the All Blacks today, but the amateur outfit are far from fazed by the prospect after taking time off work just to play in the Rugby World Cup.
According to coach Kingsley Jones, his amateurs in a professional world have “everything to gain and nothing to lose” against the three-time world champions.
“It’s a huge achievement to be here for the team and now we’re here we’ve got to be as competitive as we can,” he said.
At the top end of the World Cup scale are the Six Nations and Rugby Championship nations, with fully employed rugby professionals earning top dollar and playing year-round.
At the other end is former Wales international Jones, scrambling to get his Canadian side together for a brief period at rugby’s showcase event.
“Some of them had to compromise their jobs,” he said on the eve of Wednesday’s game against the All Blacks match in Oita, southern Japan.
“Nick Blevins, who played 12 the other night, he runs a business, a vegan food chain, and he’s had to take three months out and pay people to replace him.
“There’s also Gordon McRorie, the nine, he works in HR. His employers have been good but they can’t give people three, four months off, so there are players who (have) the extra strain of leaving the job.”
For Jones, who has made a career out of rugby as a professional player and now as coach, he was stunned by what confronted him when he took left the Pro 14 Dragons in 2017 to coach Canada.
“It was a real eye-opener to see some of the challenges around getting players released” from their day jobs, he said, adding it compounded the difficulty of competing in the regional Americas Rugby Championship which runs over three months.
“Players simply can’t do it. They’ve got families, they’ve got jobs.”
The Canadians, who were whipped 79-15 the last time they faced the All Blacks at the 2011 World Cup, are undaunted at the prospect of an even bigger scoreline in Oita.
They also don’t agree that blowouts between the top sides and the minnows are bad for the game.
“It’s an opportunity to measure ourselves against a great team and great players,” said Jones, who believes his side will put up a better showing than they did first up in Japan against Italy when beaten 48-7.
For captain Tyler Ardron, the game was all about showing improvement.
“I only know how to approach a game one way and it’s the same I’ve done it ever since I started playing rugby. We review the last game and try to fix up things we did not well and we just try to get better,” he said.
“We are just going to try to put a performance in that we are proud of.” -AFP.