State of the Nation: Canada

Date published: June 30 2016

With the June internationals now done and dusted, we take a look at the state of affairs in each of the competing nations. Next up, Canada.

One victory and two defeats makes for a frustrating June for the Canadians under new head coach Mark Anscombe as both the losses could well have been triumphs. Ultimately Canada were on the receiving end of two close fought defeats, 26-22 to Japan and 20-18 against Italy.

In between those games, Canada enjoyed a 46-21 win against Russia as a new era under Anscombe got underway with three home matches.

Anscombe stressed he was pleased with the character shown by his charges and in truth he has every right to be after the most recent showing against the Azzurri, with the game in the balance throughout. The former Auckland and Ulster boss certainly has plenty to work with moving forward.

"I am proud of a lot of the things this team has achieved," he said in reflection. "We'll come away from this Summer Series wiser, knowing a lot of guys have stood up. The character and resilience of the team was excellent and they stayed in the fight right until the end."

It's worth noting that Canada were missing the likes of Tyler Ardron, Nathan Hirayama, Harry Jones, Phil Mack, John Moonlight, DTH van der Merwe, Conor Trainor, Brett Beukeboom, Jeff Hassler, Phil Mackenzie, Jason Marshall, Jebb Sinclair and more for these international games.

So with a full squad and extra time to prepare under Anscombe's guidance, they will be keen to make positive strides in November.

Gordon McRorie continued to display a solidity off the kicking tee and, as mentioned, with the firepower of Van der Merwe and Hassler to return later in the year, there's room for optimism.

Furthermore Taylor Paris being back in the side in June has also added greater depth out wide.

Anscombe's biggest task though is surely shedding that plucky loser tag that many have attached to this team, with last year's Rugby World Cup seeing Canada impress with their fast tempo and willingness to play but ultimately they came up short when the full-time whistle was blown.

These two narrow losses in June are similar to that but Kieran Crowley's coaching replacement must be allowed time to gel his squad as they look to build momentum and crucially confidence in the coming years.

Anscombe must also be wary of the fact Canada has fallen to 18th in the World Rankings, which is a minor concern, but if he can add a steely edge and belief whilst keeping their slick style, the wins will come.

Read the rest of our State of the Nation pieces following the June Tests right here.