MILTON KEYNES, England (Reuters) - Canada lost their third successive match at the Rugby World Cup but their impressive display for long periods of an 41-18 defeat by France on Thursday shows that they are back on the right track, according to team manager Gareth Rees.
The only man to play in the first four World Cup tournaments, Rees was buoyed by what he saw on Thursday and in their similarly impressive display against Italy last weekend.
“I feel Canada is back and we have shown we can compete in stadiums of this size,” said Rees, who was part of the 1991 side who reached the quarter-finals.
“We would love more opportunities to play against the top nations. We have sent a clear message that we are an attacking nation and would love to do this more often.”
Asked whether Canada should be given a chance to compete in a tournament such as the Six Nations, he said: “We would benefit massively from something like that.
“The team can bring people into these stadiums and we deserve it after the way we have performed at this match.”
Coach Kieran Crowley was equally pleased: “I am really proud of the performance. We did well to get to within six points of France but made basic mistakes and you can’t afford to do that against a top team,” he said.
“We are disappointed with how the result went but I am happy we competed for long periods.
“I think we have progressed massively in the backs. One thing we have tried to do is play rugby and you can see that coming through. We lack experience but we played well. We need to be more dynamic in future though.”
Canada play Romania in their final game, when they will be hopeful of their first win, but they have been hard-hit by injuries, which Crowley blamed partly on his side’s tough schedule.
“We have four major injuries and had three games in 11 days. You wouldn’t ask France or Ireland to do that, would you?” he said without realising that France also played three games in the same time period.
“But it’s the hand we have been dealt. It’s going to be a struggle but we will do it and be out there 100 percent against Romania.
“There could be a plane-load of players coming from Canada. Matt Evans has hurt his knee, Aaron Carpenter his leg. You are always going to have attrition at a World Cup.”
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Greg Stutchbury