Canada put on a great display of true grit, sportsmanship and, in phases, played some enterprising rugby to score the first 6 pts against the British Army in IDRC 15. Coach Blake Edwards has done a remarkable job that, in large passages of play, enabled the CAF to take on a mixture of international, premiership and senior club players and yet look part of a competitive match.
The Army front row had a tremendous game individually and as a unit. Hooker Craig Fillier led the first charge of the day whilst props Warren Ross-Allen and Ken Dowding were flying Route One with ball in hand throughout. Clean scrums went to the Army almost irrespective of ‘feed’ to give new cap Aporosa Vata at No9 the platform to wind up his massive pass to James Farrell. Vata capped a great game with a sniping run to the posts.
Chris Leathem with a record breaking eight tries in an Army shirt stood out as a mixture of power and a pace that could be deceiving.
The Canadian players were in high spirits throughout. They had their own moments, created paths deep into Army territory and forced the hosts to concede penalties–which were slotted with great calm. They also have players who can run with the ball and many would feel perfectly comfortable in Army Corps matches. Their greatest asset is their willingness to attack from every corner on the park—seldom found in the safety first approach of European highly drilled rugby.
There were a lot of re-starts in this match and for the Canadian Armed Forces each one heralded a new rugby era as they threw themselves into the fray. They wanted the ball and wanted to attack the Brits in their own back garden. They were successful!
Andy Sanger, Head Coach said “This match showed that after a period of searching, the Army has restored true depth to the squad. It was encouraging to see how the newcomers gelled with the more experienced players and created a blend within the overall approach to the IDRC. Statistically Chris Leathem must go down as the man of the match but I think it was team work with spikes of individual sparkle that created a great all round performance.