Tokyo (AFP)

The bitter taste of decline: Competitive in the 1990s, Canada has been steadily drifting away from the rugby world since, and aiming for third place in a very strong B group already seems a high goal at the World Cup in Japan.

Long regarded as the bastion of rugby in North America, Canada is now largely exceeded by the United States, he has not beaten for five years (eleven defeats and a draw).

The "Canucks" have validated their ticket for Japan (20 September-2 November) through the small door, the drafting phase organized in Marseille in November. Having a ninth participation in nine World Cups since 1987 is already a good thing.

Canada must therefore try to exist in a pool B raised, in the presence of New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia.

The prospect of facing the All Blacks for their second match (in Oita on October 2) is reminiscent of the famous quarter-final of the 1991 World Cup in Lille, where the Canadians were not ridiculous (29-13) against the Kiwis.

Most importantly, it is a measure of how far Canadians have moved away from their golden years of the early 1990s. Since 1991, Canada has never gone beyond the group stage, and this trend is highly unlikely in Japan.

Even captain Tyler Ardron, who plays for the New Zealand Chiefs in Super Rugby, concedes it: what his selection can hope for better, they are two success against Italy and Namibia, synonymous with direct qualification for the next World Cup -2023 in France.

This goal is within the reach of the Canucks, even if their results of 2019 are not conducive to optimism: a single win against modest Chile in 8 games.

This decline is reflected in the plummeting of the country in the world rankings. Canada is out of the top 20 at the end of August, with ahead of emerging rugby nations such as Russia, Spain, Uruguay, Romania and Georgia.

Ardron will bring the necessary experience and technical background to the Canadian pack, while Glasgow's experienced three-quarter DTH Van der Merwe will bring his craziness into the back lines.

© 2019 AFP