Rugby World Cup France 2007

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Canada wants to enhance their power in the Rugby World Cup

Looking forward to get a great performance for his team, Canadian coach Ric Suggitt is thinking about one big aid. But there's one problem: it isn't quite legal.

In fact, he said "Steroids," before listing a series of more realistic tactics ranging from more international competition to better conditioning.

The national squad is in the midst of its final preparations for the World Cup which will begin next month in France.

And on Saturday, a Canadian Selects side will take on Portugal in Markham, Ont., then on Aug. 18 the full Canadian team will come together to play the Portuguese team in Ottawa in Canada's final international test game before the big moment begins.

Indeed, Canada will be using a split squad for the first game, as half of the national team will remain in their home base of Vancouver to play a local tournament game.

According to official sources, the full 32-man World Cup roster will re-unite for the second game against Portugal and will play the Newfoundland Rock semi-professional side on Aug. 25 in St. John's, N.L.

We must consider that Canada, ranked 13th in the world, is in a pool at the World Cup with No. 2 Australia, No. 8 Wales, No. 12 Fiji and No. 18 Japan. As we know, the best two teams will advance to the quarter-finals.

In the past, Canada has qualified for the quarter-finals making the grade at the 1991 World Cup. Suggitt said if the cards fall in his team's favour they could knock off one of Australia or Wales in the round robin and get back to the final eight.

"I think that in rugby anything is possible," he admitted. "But we know that there's a great divide between the top eight teams and the next five or six. After that it levels out a bit."

In fact, Suggitt will have veterans like Morgan Williams, Mike James and Ryan Smith to rely on, but is also counting on emerging players like Adam Kleeberger and David Spicer to contribute. James Pritchard will be called on for Canada's kicking role.

"There's no surprise that we'll have five forward on our bench," Suggitt stated. "We know we have to use them more wisely than in the past."

Suggitt thinks the International Rugby Board has been helping second tier countries like Canada improve their national programs by providing more chances to play international matches. However, he said more work needs to be done.

"No one in their right mind would have predicted a score that close at halftime," Suggitt claims, adding the lesson Canada learned is it needs to play with intensity for a full match. "We really require to be fit enough to go out there for 80 or 90 minutes. We don't have that quite yet" he concluded.