January 27, 2018 Vancouver, BC (ISN) – The Canadian Men’s Rugby 15’s side dropped their first leg of a home and home Rugby World Cup qualifying series with a 38-29 loss to visiting Uruguay Los Teros Saturday night in front of 16,132 in attendance at BC Place in Vancouver, BC.
Not only was the loss important for Team Canada as an aggregate score qualifier to the RWC, but it also served as a loss in the first fixture of the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship.
The Canadian team, bolstered by a wealth of experienced national and professional-playing returnees such as Canadian try-scoring record leader DTH van der Merwe, Osprey’s Jeff Hassler, and winger Taylor Paris of the French top 14 side Castres to name just a few, looked poised on roster experience to take game one, but Uruguay’s exploitation of a quicker edge offense, Canadian penalties, and a clinical tackling defense would be all that the visiting side would need to secure the game one win in the best of two, aggregate score match series.
Canada would go up 17-14 mid-way through the first half on pair of tries by Evan Olmstead and DTH van der Merwe. Connor Braid would add a penalty kick for Canada. A Uruguayan try with time expired in the first half would give the half time lead to Uruguay 21-17.
Canada would come out in the second half playing for a momentum shift that saw Uruguay give up a penalty try and a player due to a yellow card that would put the Los Teros down a man.
What was to be Canada’s advantage would refocus Uruguay. Scoring back-to-back tries, Canada’s 24-21 precarious lead would be squandered, as Uruguay would jump out in front 35-24.
Canada would play on the attack the most of the last twenty minutes of the second frame, resulting in a try by Nick Blevins from DTH van der Merwe to pull closer 35-29.
A penalty kick by Uruguay with ten minutes remaining would seal the 38-29 win for the Los Teros.
In the loss, Canada’s coach Kingsley Jones was notably disappointed.
“They won the collisions and gave them momentum. To give a soft try like that (in the opening minute) in a big game is not what you want. The Uruguayans were well drilled and came to do a job and got it done,” he said.
“We were not clinical enough. There were nonetheless many positives and we will build from those. We need to win by 10 points now, something we haven’t done for some time. For that, we need to be better.”
Next weekend Canada will travel to Uruguay’s Charrua Stadium for game two, needing to defeat Uruguay by an aggregate, two game score of at least 10 points to advance to the 2019 World Rugby Cup and avoid a visit to the 2019 repechage tournament.