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SVNS relegation fight: All to play for on final day for winless Canada

By Finn Morton
Canada will still have a chance to retain core status for the 2024/25 SVNS Series season. Picture: World Rugby.

When the Canada men’s team walked off the field and up the tunnel at Madrid’s Civitas Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon, there was definitely a feeling of ‘what could’ve been’ that followed them after losing to the USA 14-7.

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There were a couple of players who let out brief yells of frustration, while others walked in silence as they appeared to regather their thoughts or process what had just happened. Their undesirable losing streak has continued and it needs to end quickly.

Canada were beaten by Uruguay, Germany and now the USA to start their SVNS Series playoff campaign. With half of the eight-team bracket set to be rewarded with SVNS Series core status for the 2024/25 season, there’s plenty to play for this weekend.

However, the good news for Canada is that their hopes of going around at least one more time on the international circuit are not lost. The Canadians will play in the fourth Championship knockout decider on Sunday, with each winner to earn core status.

If you judge Canada by their form alone, then they’re a team that appears to have an outside chance of doing what they need at the home of European football giants Atletico Madrid. But if you ask the players, as this writer did, they’ll tell you they still believe.

“We’ve obviously had a few good results this season and obviously a lot of tough ones too,” Canada’s Thomas Isherwood told RugbyPass.

“We’re in these games until the end against a lot of the great teams, and historic teams too, so we’re obviously very proud of what we can do and we know what we can achieve so we’re going to give all that out tomorrow.

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“There’s been so many greats in this Canadian jersey and obviously we’re trying to leave the jersey in a better spot than we found it and we all give our all.

“A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to this and sacrifice a lot. Obviously rugby in Canada is not the biggest thing, so a lot of people give up a lot of their time for me to be here, and that’s a lot of coaches in the youth and all that kind of stuff, that all plays into this, so we’re all very proud to wear this jersey and we’re excited to represent tomorrow.”

Canada may have started their tournament with two defeats from as many starts on Friday, but they looked much improved on the event’s second day.

Taking on fierce rivals the USA, who were unbeaten heading into the match, there was always going to be an extra bit of feeling about this contest.

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It was tense for a while. Neither team was quite able to land that point-scoring blow for the opening five minutes unlike the Eagle’s Maka Unufe gave the favourites the lead in the fifth minute.

Canada made a game of this contest, though, as Josiah Morra scored in the 10th minute. It was all-level with not that long left on the clock, but in the end, a try-scoring effort from Malacchi Esdale was the difference.

The Canadians had one last attack inside their opponent’s half with time practically up on the clock, but a dropped pass was ultimately the last say. They lost, valiantly, 7-14.

“It’s a bit of a weird feeling. We’ve been building a lot this year. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity as a team.

“We had a really good two-week training block coming up to this and obviously it’s a lot that these Challenger teams are coming up and really putting on the pressure, and obviously losing to your rivals by a try in the last moments of the game is a bit of a tough one to swallow.

“It’s coming down to tomorrow now and we’re all eager to show up and do it.

Catch all of the SVNS Madrid action live and free on RugbyPass TV. To watch the Grand Final, register HERE.

 

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