Canada’s men’s rugby team will have to negotiate a two-leg playoff against Uruguay to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after it was dealt a 52-16 thrashing at the hands of the United States on Saturday.
Canada had won 15 out of 20 qualifiers between the neighbours, but hadn’t beaten the Eagles in four years. The first leg in Hamilton was drawn 28-28 last weekend, and the second leg was close at the University of San Diego until Canada lost its composure while it had momentum.
Because of a no-arms tackle ruling against Canada, it lost a scrum put-in near halfway and had to defend a five-meter lineout instead. The Eagles drove it and replacement hooker Joe Taufete’e scored from the rolling maul.
Behind by 10 points, Canada No. 8 Tyler Ardron was then sin-binned for collapsing a maul, and while he was off the field, the U.S. rushed in three tries; a second lineout drive score for Taufete’e, an 80-meter break finished by scrumhalf Nate Augspurger, and another rolling maul score for replacement prop Dino Waldren.
AJ MacGinty converted all three, and six of their eight tries as the Eagles notched their highest score and biggest margin against Canada.
It was a fitting send off for retiring captain Todd Clever, who was playing his record-extending 76th cap since 2003, and coach John Mitchell, who was leaving to coach South Africa Super Rugby side the Bulls.
WATCH: Canadian rugby team makes history by joining U.K. league
The Americans’ reward was a place in World Cup Pool C in Japan with England, France, Argentina, and a yet-to-be-determined Oceania side.
Canada, which has played in every World Cup, will meet Uruguay in January for a slot in Pool D with Australia, Wales, Georgia, and another Oceania side.
The Canadians were handicapped by the withdrawal of backs DTH van der Merwe, who scored two tries last week, Taylor Paris, and Phil Mack, and were down 12-0 in almost even time after a couple of tries by U.S. No. 8 Cam Dolan. Dolan also set up their third try for lock Nate Brakeley as they led 19-3 after the first quarter.
But the Americans lost their cool, and Canada rallied with goalkicks by Gordon McRorie and 10 points while Eagles flanker Tony Lamborn was in the sin-bin. But then Canada’s discipline dropped away, and the Americans pounced.