Canada falls to visiting Spain in men's rugby test

·4 min read

OTTAWA — The result was disappointing, but the experience will go a long way for Canada’s senior men’s 15s rugby squad following a 57-34 loss to Spain on Sunday.

Ranked 15th in the world, Spain was considered the favourite coming in, but for Canada’s young squad this was an opportunity to see what’s needed to win on the international pitch.

“There’s a lot of good in what we did,” said Canada head coach Kingsley Jones. “Our breakdown work was really good, there was some good performances from one or two individuals and our lineup was excellent until we lost (players) to maybe a little fatigue, but we certainly had tempo in the area we wanted.”

Canada trailed 40-13 after the first half, but regrouped and came out with a strong second half outscoring its opponents 21-17.

Spain picked up right where it left off scoring in the opening minutes of the second half, but Canada replied as captain Lucas Rumball punched his way in to make it 45-20.

“We’ve got to learn to start quicker,” said Rumball after the game. “It’s something we’ve done in the past as well, is wait until the game is out of hand and we’ve dug ourselves a hole and then we find that spark.

“If we want to be a top team we really need to start from the get-go.”

Spain went on to score twice more, but the home crowd witnessed a strong finish when at the 71st minute Canada was able to swing the ball and go wide ending with Kainoa Lloyd punching in the try. With time winding down Canada scored once more as Jack McRogers scored his first-ever try as he earned his first cap to make it 57-34.

Jones felt his team got better as the game went on, but admitted this kind of matchup will be needed for Canada’s to improve on its 21st world ranking.

“It’s always a learning experience as they say,” said Jones. “They’ve had a taste of the physicality that they’re up against and the accuracy and unless you play the better teams you won’t get better.”

Sunday’s game marked the first international test match hosted at TD Place in Ottawa and while the 4,178 spectators didn’t get the result they were hoping for they did get to see a couple familiar faces in Connor Keys, who grew up just 20 minutes west of downtown Ottawa, and Dawson Fatoric.

“Honestly, it was unbelievable to be able to play in front of family and friends and people I haven’t seen in years,” said Keys. “It wasn’t a great score, but it was a lot of fun to play in front of all of them and I’m still proud of our effort as a team.”

Spain dominated the scoreboard scoring six tries in the first half.

“Certainly, that halftime result really is the one you’re very disappointed with,” said Jones. “Certainly, the first half the physicality that we needed wasn’t there and Spain was accurate and took every opportunity.

“The area we’ll have to look at is the start. We certainly didn’t start as well as we would have liked.”

From the opening minute Canada struggled to contain Spain’s physicality as they grabbed a 7-0 lead just five minutes into the match.

Canada got on the board on a penalty conversion by Peter Nelson to make it 7-3, but the visiting team went on to score back-to-back tries to take a commanding 21-3 lead.

Another penalty conversion by Nelson allowed Canada to make it 21-6.

Down 26-6 fans finally had something to cheer about in the 24th minute as Lindsey Stevens — making his first start after Andrew Quattrin was a late scratch due to injury — scored his first international try.

Spain would score twice more before the half ended.

The match was the culmination of Canada’s two-week camp and following the loss players will return to their respective club teams. Sunday’s match was also the second international test for the Canadians on home soil as they cruised to a 45-0 win over the visiting Belgians last weekend in Halifax, N.S.

After failing to qualify for the 2023 World Cup in France, Canada has set its focus on 2027.

“We need as many of these kind of matches as possible,” said Rumball. “You only really get better by experiencing it and the only way to experience it is playing these international matches and so we need as many as possible.”


This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2022.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting