Wish Canada and Namibia the best of luck over the next week because they are about to tackle rugby’s version of mission impossible – a Tier 2 team taking on New Zealand.
The All Blacks are back in action on Wednesday night (11.15pm NZT), when they play Canada in their second Pool B match at the World Cup in Japan.
Come kickoff in Oita, Steve Hansen’ mob will have had 10 full days to recover from their brutal 23-13 win against South Africa during the opening weekend of the tournament.
Given the All Blacks have a short turnaround between the match against Canada and their match against Namibia in Tokyo Sunday week, don’t expect Hansen to wheel out his first-choice XV.
Japan’s wonderful win over Ireland on Saturday highlighted again the rise of lower-ranked rugby nations, but New Zealand have remained immune to this trend, and boast a merciless record against those teams.
The 10 Tier 2 outfits at Rugby World Cup 2019 have played the champions 32 times down the years without a victory. The average score over those games? The All Blacks 67, Tier 2 nations 10. Remarkably, the world champions have scored 10 tries per game in these matches.
It is a different story for the other major rugby nations. South Africa’s unblemished record against Tier 2 sides disappeared when they lost in the “Miracle of Brighton” to Japan at RWC 2015 while Australia have lost at home to Samoa as recently as 2011 and have also been beaten twice by Fiji and once by Tonga.
Wales have lost to Samoa three times, Fiji, Canada and Japan; France were beaten by Fiji in Paris only last November, and have twice lost to Tonga and once each to Canada and USA. Ireland? Well, Saturday’s historic defeat by the hosts is not their first such stumble: they have also lost in Dublin to Samoa, been humbled twice in Namibia, pictured below scoring their single try against the All Blacks at RWC 2015, and drawn with Canada.
We had a review meeting yesterday that highlighted the amount of opportunities we had,” scrumhalf Gordon McRorie said on Sunday. “The fact we didn’t finish them is hugely disappointing.
“But having seen those opportunities we created, it was a big positive for us, so the guys are excited now to keep to the script. Going forward, just tidying up on our finishing skills and making sure that we’re able to create those opportunities again … hopefully this time we’ll nail them down and get some points on the board.
The Italy result underlines Canada’s prospects of a thrashing from top-ranked New Zealand. But McRorie said they were looking forward to meeting the All Blacks for the first time in eight years, since the 2011 World Cup.