RWC Match Preview: Canada vs Namibia
Canada will take on Namibia in the final game of the Rugby World Cup. Officials are monitoring Typhoon Hagibis and will make a decision about if the game will be played on the morning of. Two pivotal matches (ENG vs FRA and NZL vs ITA) have already been canceled.
After getting crushed by 3 tier 1 nations (Italy, All Blacks, and Springboks), the match between Canada and Namibia represents the best chance for either side to leave Japan with a victory under their belts.
Namibia has participated in every Rugby World Cup since 1999, however, they have yet to earn their first win. For Canada, it will be a chance to end 2019 on a high note and earn their first win at the Rugby World Cup since 2011.
Kingsley Jones’ squad has been devastated by injuries throughout this tournament. After a brief 12-minute return, Kyle Baillie is once again out of the lineup and Mike Sheppard has suffered a concussion. To make matters worse, Josh Larsen has been suspended 3 weeks for his red card against South Africa.
With all the injuries (and suspensions) in the 2nd row, Dustin Dobravsky has been called up for the last game with Namibia. However, Dobravsky is a back row player. Dobravsky will be joined by Luke Campbell on the bench. This means if another injury is sustained, Tyler Ardron may need to play lock against Namibia.
The backline is exactly what you would expect. With the exception of Ciaran Hearn and Conor Trainor starting in the centres due to injuries, it is the same backline Jones has been going with since the PNC. Jamie Mackenzie and Shane O’Leary will also draw into the lineup with the reserves.
Ultimately, it’s clear that Jones is putting forward what he believes is his best lineup (or least, the best out of who is available).
Much like Canada, Namibia was handed some big losses by Italy (47-22), South Africa (57-3), and New Zealand (71-9).
However, Namibia had everyone talking when Damian Stevens slotted a penalty to pull Namibia to within 1 point of the All Blacks after 30 minutes. The All Blacks pulled away in the 2nd half, but they really showed what they were capable of in that opening 30 minutes. Phil Davies has made 6 changes to the starting XV from that game with the All Blacks. A notable change is Stevens be in the reserves in favour of typical starter Eugene Jantjies.
A standout from that All Blacks game was hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld. Van Jaarsveld was a force to be reckoned with at the breakdown causing 6 turnovers. Prince !Gaoseb had an outstanding 25 tackle performance in his RWC debut against the All Blacks and it has allowed him to retain the 6 jersey heading into Namibia’s biggest game. The backline will be led by the veteran scrumhalf Jantjies and Johan Deysel who captains the squad from outside centre.
3 Things to Watch
DTH van der Merwe
In the match against the Springboks, van der Merwe set the Canadian record for most Rugby World Cup caps by playing in his 15th RWC match. Van der Merwe will be aiming for another record against Namibia.
Van der Merwe scored a try in the 2007, 2011, and 2015 tournaments and with a try against Namibia, van der Merwe will join an exclusive group of players that have scored tries in 4 Rugby World Cups. If van der Merwe manages to score 2 tries, he will reach the milestone of 40 tries and 200 test points for Canada.
Van der Merwe is one of the best Canadian rugby players in history and it would be great to see him end the RWC with a bang by snagging a few more records.
Canada will be in tough against the Namibians at the breakdown. Namibia was effective against the All Blacks in the opening 30 minutes of their match and did well to make their tackles and not allow the All Blacks to slip through. They were also able to get the upper hand on the All Blacks and come away with several turnovers at the breakdown.
Namibia made good use of the ball they won. They would hold onto possession and force the All Blacks to win it back. Namibia had good support and was able to protect the ball in every phase. They eventually drew penalties on the All Blacks leading to their 9 points.
Much like Canada, Namibia doesn’t get the ball a whole lot. However, they are much more reluctant to give it back. The Canadian pack will need a big game against the Namibian forwards in order to gain possession of the ball. Lucas Rumball, Tyler Ardron, Matt Heaton, and Evan Olmstead will need to lead the charge and limit the effectiveness of !Gaoseb, van Jaarsveld, and the Namibian pack.
I don’t know if there will be any moment of this game more important than the opening 10 minutes for either side. Canada has had some slow starts this year and often find themselves in a hole after the opening 10-20 minutes.
So far at the Rugby World Cup, Canada has given up the opening try at 2 minutes (RSA), 8 minutes (NZL), and 7 minutes (ITA). Another slow start against Namibia could be costly. You do not want to give them confidence early. Additionally, Namibia is more than happy to just take the points on penalties. If Namibia has a lead to work with, they will happily line up kicks for Cliven Loubser and pad the lead. Discipline will be key in preventing Namibia from getting on the board.
However, if Canada is able to gain an early lead, it will give them plenty of confidence going forward. Canada has not had the best start at the RWC and they will need to remedy that against Namibia.
Canada’s final game of the RWC against Namibia takes place at 11:15pm on Saturday, October 12th, 2019. As always, you can catch the game on TSN and follow @Bressette4 on twitter for all your updates throughout the match.