October 8, 2019 / 3:05 PM / 14 days ago

Rugby-Jones values 'shop window' for Canada as pursues win over Namibia

KOBE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Victory over Namibia would mark a successful World Cup for Canada, although giving rugby a “shop window” outweighs the results, coach Kingsley Jones said on Tuesday after losing 66-7 to South Africa in Kobe.

Although the unsurprising loss came just six days after the Canadians were humbled 63-0 by world champions New Zealand, Jones says if the game is to grow in Canada, they need to be playing at this level, whatever the outcome.

“The biggest thing for rugby in Canada is to be in the shop window,” Jones told reporters in Kobe. “We have a big audience and the support tonight was incredible.

“We have earned the right to be in this competition, playing the two top teams in the world in six days is a challenge, but it was one the players really relished.”

Jones believes the road to professional rugby also needs to be smoothed if the national team is truly to make progress.

“There is a strong rugby community in Canada and we need those players. This shop window will encourage young Canadian players to keep playing and be the next Tyler (Ardron).

But the pathway to professional rugby is “broken”.

“The domestic game in Canada, until recently, was amateur. We do have the Toronto Arrows now taking part in the MLR (Major League Rugby), which is a pathway for players to get an opportunity to be in a daily training environment.

“But it is becoming more difficult for our players to get a chance (in Europe).”

Canada will have a last opportunity to pick up a win on Sunday in Kamaishi against fellow Pool B minnows Namibia, coached by fellow Welshman Phil Davies.

Despite the heavy scorelines against Canada, which has seen them concede 177 points in three matches, the most of any side in the competition, Jones believes he will be able to call the tournament a success if they can leave Japan with a victory.

“It would be considered, from my point of view, very successful if we do get a win. But it is about performance, we will have to play very well,” he said. (Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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