It is with dismay and increasing frustration that as Canada start their Pacific Nations Cup campaign on Saturday in San Jose against Japan, I have to report that Canadian supporters will have to resort to trawling the Internet a few days after the game to find any kind of video content of the match, despite TSN’s bold claim that they are covering all of Rugby Canada’s matches this year. Well people that seems limited to the World Cup money grab – sorry! Not only that but good luck finding any actual information on the game, ie player rosters, previews with the game being only three days away.
Fixtures this weekend
Canada vs Japan
Saturday, July 18th
San Jose, USA
So I get it, the focus of Canadian rugby has been on the Pan Am games in Toronto this month and the Sevens aspect of the Canadian game. Well done to both our men and women’s teams for getting the gold! However, with the World Cup only 2 months away, I am amazed at the lack of coverage of the senior men’s efforts and preparations. With the Pacific Nations Cup getting underway this weekend between Canada, USA, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Japan, and a crucial phase of Canada’s preparation for the World Cup, you would be hard pressed to know that the tournament was actually taking place. I am only hoping that Canada’s home games will generate more publicity and coverage. So far Canadian broadcaster TSN has made no mention of broadcasting the opening game in San Jose against Japan. As Canadian rugby supporters struggle to get behind their team they are left with the task of trawling the Internet to find snippets of information about the tournament.
As frustrating as this is, let’s hope that once the tournament’s closing rounds come to Canada, coverage will pick up. However, in the meantime what can Canada expect in San Jose? Japan are no slackers and the increasing corporate investment in the sport in Japan is serving to strengthen the sport in the land of the rising sun. Former World Cup winning Wallaby coach Eddie Jones is in charge of Japan’s World Cup campaign and Japan are currently ranked 13th in the world, 4 places ahead of Canada at 17.
As a result Saturday’s outing in San Jose for the Canucks will not be an easy endeavour by any stretch of the imagination. Japan have always had some pacy and courageous backs, and with some overseas players now having the right to play for Japan, their forward packs are no longer so easily dominated. Nevertheless, I can’t help feeling that this will be a fairly straightforward outing for Canada, provided they keep their discipline and use the considerable advantages available to them in the size and power of their own forward pack. In the backs there is plenty of talent with one of the top try scorers in this year’s Guinness Pro 12 competition, DTH Van Der Merwe for Glasgow Warriors, likely to be leading the charge. If you want to see what this man is capable of doing against Japan then watch below at the 2007 World Cup.
In short, I expect this to be a well fought match but as Canada settles and benefits from some of the international experience of players like DTH Van Der Merwe, they should ultimately be able to see off a spirited challenge from Japan, which will set them up for a much tougher challenge against the very physical Tongans a week later and one which we here in Canada will hopefully get to see on television or at least streamed on the Internet!