Canada reclaimed its position among the world’s top 20 after beating Hong Kong 27-10 in the final match of the repechage tournament in Marseille. By qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2019, the team preserved their record of having appeared in every Rugby World Cup since the competition’s inception in 1987.
“It will be some experience for the Red Men of Canada to take on the might of the All Blacks and Springboks”Rob Vickerman, former England 7s captain and DHL rugby ambassador
The team takes its place in Pool B alongside defending champions New Zealand, two-time winners South Africa, African qualifiers Namibia, and Italy. Their first match will be against the Azzurri in Fukuoka on September 26, 2019.
“Canada will take a moment to reflect, time to plan and then focus on the prospect of facing both New Zealand and South Africa,” says Rob Vickerman, former England 7s captain and DHL rugby ambassador. “As the last World Cup showed with Japan Vs South Africa; pitted as the worst record in RWC wins against the best ever, nothing is impossible – however, it will be some experience for the Red Men of Canada to take on the might of the All Blacks and Springboks.”
While Canada was preserving records, Germany was setting them. The tournament’s underdogs strongly rebuked that position with an impressive 26-9 defeat of top seeds Hong Kong on day one. A bonus-point 43-6 victory over Kenya put the Germans in second overall, a result that surprised many and earned the team a lot of respect from rugby players and fans around the world.
🇨🇦 Congratulations Canada! 🎉— DHL Rugby (@DHLRugby) November 23, 2018
They become the final team to qualify for #RWC2019 after winning the Repechage play-off
✅ @RugbyCanada have now qualified for every edition of the tournament since it began in 1987 pic.twitter.com/39hTBNrLd6
A really long road
The final six matches in Marseille marked the end of a long qualification process that started in March 2016. What began with 71 teams dreaming of an RWC 2019 berth ended with only eight teams earning that privilege: USA, Uruguay, Russia, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Namibia, and Canada. All told, rugby fans saw 188 matches played across 994 days with 10,355 points scored.
The four nations bidding for the 20th and final place at Japan 2019 – Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, and Kenya – had played 34 matches between them to reach the global repechage tournament, Canada playing the fewest with four and Kenya the most with 13.
Canada keeps qualifying, Germany keeps shocking
Though the Rugby World Cup 2019 Repechage Tournament offered thrilling moments throughout, the final matches in Marseille delivered some moments to remember.
“Canada won with ferocious levels of commitment and simply outplayed the opponents in most facets of the game.”Rob Vickerman
Canada made a winning start to the tournament – an impressive 65-19 win no less that included a whopping 10 tries and a hattrick by winger DTH van der Merwe. The victory was expected, and the bonus point gave the Canadiens an extra boost over Hong Kong. After beating Germany and picking up another bonus point, Hong Kong had the enormous task of needing to beat Canada and score four tries for a bonus point while denying the Canucks a bonus point in losing (by seven or less points).
“Canada won with ferocious levels of commitment and simply outplayed the opponents in most facets of the game,” says Vickerman. “They mix a wonderful style of play with hardened and seasoned front row, knowledgeable half backs; and pace balance and guile in the back three. Their back row worked tirelessly and resulted in a try fest for their talisman DTH Van Der Merwe who topped the charts.”
The shocker on day one was Germany’s stunning win over top seeds Hong Kong. After a 6-6 tie at the half, Germany’s Raynor Parkinson became an instant legend in the second half, kicking three penalties and converting both of his side’s tries in the 26-9 victory. After the win and only two more away from dreamland, the chants of “Deutschland, Deutschland” were unmistakable. And they were heard once again during the country’s 43-6 win over Kenya to complete the surprise and secure second place in the round-robin tournament.
“Germany take a great deal of confidence and belief back with them.”Rob Vickerman
“Germany take a great deal of confidence and belief back with them,” said Vickerman. “Their win over Hong Kong was a highlight as they wouldn’t let Hong Kong break their committed defense, and backed it up with similar styles against a Kenyan team that entertained the watching world.”
As Canadians from coast to coast celebrate and prepare to cheer their team on in Japan next fall, German rugby fans can revel in a respectable repechage – one that earned them real respect in the rugby world and is certainly one to remember!