Canada were very disappointing against Italy at the World Cup. Photo: Kyodo News via AP
Yesterday we saw the first truly disappointing performance at this World Cup when Canada resembled complete amateurs in meekly capitulating to Italy, 48-7.

I say meekly because their tackling was pathetic, with the Italians cruising through the open gates in the first half before improving in the second half.

That would have been because of a half-time roasting from none other than Sir Graham Henry, the former All Blacks coach that has been seconded to the Canadians as an advisor with a focus on defence.

In the first quarter alone, Henry’s charges missed 14 of 30 attempted tackles, and he watched with a face of thunder.

Henry’s nickname is Ted, reportedly given to him by his wife because he is “cuddly”. He was hardly Ted as he watched the Canadians make a mockery of the famous saying that “the Mounties (the Canadian police) always get their man”.

Be this as it may, one Italian that stood out from his teammates for his relentless barnstorming runs was a man from Cradock in the Eastern Cape, Braam Steyn, a six foot four, 110kg former South African Under-20 No 8.

He was getting a rare crack in the Italy No 8 jersey because Sergio Parise was enjoying a rare rest. The weakness of Canada notwithstanding, Steyn suggested he is a successor to the great Parise in the making.

Yesterday’s second game saw England play well in fits and starts to beat a valiant USA side 45-7. Unlike the Canadians against Italy, England had to work hard for their tries by an American team well-coached by former Bok assistant and Sharks coach Gary Gold. There was an ironic moment late in the game when England centre Owen Farrell was floored by a high, no-arms tackle by USA flank John Quill that had the players clash heads.

Quill was red carded for the offence and rightly so. The officials got this right after watching on the big screen but did it have to be Farrell that had the satisfaction of watching his tackler troop off to the sin bin?

Farrell is a notorious “no arms” (non) tackler but somehow always gets away with murder. His most well-known offence, of course, was at Twickenham last November when he smashed into Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen but, unbelievably, did not get so much as a penalty against him despite referee Angus Gardner watching the incident on the big screen.

When Gardner said “I’m happy with the tackle”, Farrell turned to his teammates and fist-pumped repeatedly. It was the last play of the match, with England leading 12-11. A penalty would highly likely have seen Handre Pollard kick the Boks home. A footnote to that bizarre decision was that later that year Australian Gardner won the World Rugby Referee of the Year award, and in a subsequent interview he admitted that he had got the Farrell decision against the Boks wrong.

@MikeGreenaway67


The Mercury