Energy level may be Canada's big challenge entering Rugby World Cup finale
Men's coach Kingsley Jones says tourney would be a success with win over Namibia
Canada coach Kingsley Jones isn't worried about his players' hearts. It's their legs that concern him.
Canada was walloped 63-0 and 66-7 in successive games against New Zealand and South Africa and must find the energy for one last challenge at the Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Canada faces fellow Tier Two team Namibia last in Kamaishi on Sunday and it's one game they should win. Namibia is the only team ranked lower than Canada at the World Cup — albeit by just one place.
Canada has lost three from three so far but the World Cup will be considered a success if it wins the last one, Jones said.
But the Canadians are drained from back-to-back games against two of the most intense teams in world rugby. And that was exacerbated when Canada played for 45 minutes with one man down against the Springboks on Tuesday in Kobe after replacement lock Josh Larsen was sent off for a shoulder charge on a South African player's neck at a ruck just before halftime.
"We've planned for this game [Namibia] for a long while," Jones said. "There will be a lot of rest and recovery. I think it's going to come down to the legs of the guys on Sunday."
'We'll throw everything we've got at it'
Canada's 14 players held the Springboks to 19 points in the second half after conceding 47 in the first. That takes a toll. Canada made twice as many tackles as the Springboks. And Canada has just four days off to recover before Namibia.
Jones said his players seemed "pretty fit" in the dressing room after the Springboks loss but he'll only really know what shape they're in when they train again in the coming days.
Captain Tyler Ardron promised maximum commitment, no matter the level of fatigue.
"We'll throw everything we've got at it. Short turnaround but we've got no excuses," he said. "We'll put everything we can into the field next week."
One thing Canada can't prepare for, though, is the possible arrival of Super Typhoon Hagibis, which is predicted to hit Japan over the weekend and could wreak havoc with the Rugby World Cup schedule.
Jones figured he's got enough concerns.
"The first thing you have to learn in my job is to concentrate on the controllables," Jones said. "There's so many uncontrollables."
Reinach runs roughshod
He let out a little laugh at the suggestion he should also be planning for Hagibis.
"Well, I don't know. I can't control that," he said. "So, we'll just turn up and see what happens."
Cobus Reinach scored the quickest Rugby World Cup hat trick in a whirlwind first 30 minutes on Tuesday.
Reinach's three tries came in an 11-minute spell from the ninth to the 20th minutes, beating Chris Latham's 25-minute hat trick for Australia in a 142-0 win over Namibia in 2003, the World Cup's biggest win.
"I thought we were nice and clinical and decisive," Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus said.
Canada was 40-0 down when Larsen went five minutes before halftime.
'Pace, physicality, we couldn't stay with it'
Facing what threatened to be the biggest beating of the World Cup so far, the red card seemed to lift Canada for a period and the underdogs fought gamely in a 20-minute spell either side of halftime.
The Springboks only scored one try in that period and Canada won a sliver of pride when flanker Matt Heaton drove over early in the second — when it was 14 vs. 15 — for its one try. It easily drew the biggest cheer at Kobe's last game of the World Cup.
"The way the Springboks started really took us by surprise," Canada coach Kingsley Jones said. "Pace, physicality, we couldn't stay with it.
"There was a lot of thinking to do there in the sheds. We talked about the [first] 40 minutes had gone, there wasn't a lot we could do about that 40 minutes. I thought the boys fought admirably in the second half with 14 players."
The Springboks scored 10 tries in all. Backline players scored all seven in the first half and eight of the 10 as the Boks ran the Canadians off their feet at times. But Canada also reduced the two-time champions to just three tries in the second. That half finished 19-7 to South Africa.