Canada head coach Kingsley Jones believes the success of Major League Rugby in North America will ensure his team becomes stronger on the world stage with players getting regular professional rugby experience rather than being ignored by their overseas clubs.
Toronto Arrows and a heavily Canadian-influenced Seattle Seawolves squad are part of an expanding MLR competition in North America and while Canada’s 47-19 beating by the USA last weekend suggests there is still a lot of work to be done, Jones remains optimistic about the future.
Canada were the last team to qualify for the Rugby World Cup and their reward was to join a pool including New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia and they are currently in Fiji for their two remaining Pacific Nations Cup matches with Fiji and Tonga.
Jones told the Fiji Sun: “We did have 10 players operating overseas but only Jeff Hassler (Ospreys) was getting picked regularly. We had three players at Newcastle who never got a game and now all our guys have been playing rugby.
“Tyler Adron (Chiefs) is doing well in Super Rugby and Evan Olmstead has played at Auckland. Just go back 18 months and think of the number of Canadian players who weren’t getting exposed to daily training environments.
A warm welcome for our senior men ahead of game ?? of the #PNC2019 vs @fijirugby this Friday! K.O. At 1:15am ET (Aug 3)/ 10:15pm PT on TSN2 & https://t.co/xFd4f2tvyC ?? #RugbyCA #RC15s @TSN_Sports @WorldRugby pic.twitter.com/GqaGZfedgD
— Rugby Canada (@RugbyCanada) July 30, 2019
“Now, there is probably 45 players in the MLR who weren’t in daily training back then and they were working daytime jobs.”
Jones has taken a squad of 31 players to Fiji, including nine front row forwards in an attempt to identify the players who will make the final World Cup squad.
A dozen players have been left behind at Canada’s training base to continue their preparation programme and Jones knows the pressure on everyone. “There are two games in a short space of time and so we will see a few different faces.”
Another minnow country in New Zealand's World Cup pool calls in a Kiwi assistant.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 30, 2019
Captain Adron is trying to find positives from the heavy beating by their American neighbours and expects a reaction against Fiji in their next match.
He explained: “It’s probably one of the best things that can happen early in this competition. I have never questioned the effort of these guys but the technique and some of the execution can be a bit suspect at times.”
WATCH: The latest RugbyPass documentary, Foden – Stateside, looks at how ex-England international Ben Foden is settling into Major League Rugby in New York
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.