Saturday, July 18, 2009

Canada makes the Rugby World Cup and other updates


I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about some less popular sports - particularly rugby and minor league soccer, and thought I should update you on what transpired in the meantime.

Rugby

First, Canada defeated the US in the home-and-home series. The first game was played on July 4th and shown on ESPN to start, but moved to ESPN2 after the unfortunate news concerning Steve McNair broke. The US won 12-6 in that affair, but were roundly defeated 41-18 in Edmonton a week later, giving Canada the Americas 1 berth for the 2011 tournament in New Zealand. Canada is the first country to qualify through competition (12 nations automatically qualify through their finish in the 2007 tournament). Canada will play in a group with New Zealand, France, and Tonga, as well as an Asian team yet to be determined. Suffice to say that finishing in the top 3 will be quite difficult for the Canucks but it'll be worth watching.

The US now takes on Uruguay for the final Americas berth, but even a loss there will not eliminate them as there is a final 4-team playoff with teams from other continents.

Soccer

In the US Open Cup, only 1 of the 4 USL teams that had advanced to the quarterfinals won - the Rochester Rhinos knocked off USL2 side Wilmington Hammerheads 2-1 and will take on DC United next week. The other semi-final features Houston and Seattle in an all-MLS battle.

The Ottawa Fury, meanwhile, have clinched a spot in the PDL playoffs. They are currently 11-0-4 with one game left, and have given up only 8 goals all season, tied for best in the league. Their final game is this Sunday when they host Brooklyn. I can't go as I'm flying back to Japan that day, but would recommend any Ottawa residents to have a look, this team is interesting to watch and could go far in the playoffs.

Cricket

In another sport that doesn't get the coverage it should here, England and Australia are doing battle in the Ashes. The first match was a draw, and the second match is going on right now, with 3 more to follow. It's fascinating stuff, and I urge those who don't understand the game or the history of this tournament to use their work hours to follow along on Cricinfo.com.

I'm all done with sports on this rather eventful trip, but will be back in Japan early next week and looking to continue my minor-league baseball tour there. Until then, have a good sports-filled weekend!

Best,

Sean

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