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 l, as the Prince George Cougars survived an 8-7 - Eine neue Antwort erstellen Ihre Schreibrechte
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 l, as the Prince George Cougars survived an 8-7

TORONTO — Its mesmerizing, but very much unglamorous; uncomplicated, and still bewildering to a point of frustration. Rugby is so many things, but above all, rugby is truth. Saturday at BMO Field (8pm et/5pm pt on TSN), Canada will challenge Ireland for two, 40-minute periods of hellish contact, and the game will lay bare talents and limitations. It is why labels — sometimes convenient things — are frivolous in a game where two teams of 15 large men engage in a kind of ceaseless percussion, slamming into each other forevermore, conducting the brutal symphony. The strongest arent always the strongest; the fastest sometimes never get up to speed. And so too does the word amateur mean little. It doesnt really matter if you play for love or money when youre at the bottom of a ruck, the slow-rolling human onion, and a forearm is squeezing your throat, and a knee is jabbing your spine, all so you can move an oval inch by messy inch. But Irelands interim head coach Les Kiss was only trying to be complimentary at a Tuesday press conference, when he explained how amateurism imbues Canadians with something special. "There is another reason they play that is outside the professional realm, and there is another heart and desire that comes to the game," he said. Although many of Irelands rugby superstars — Brian ODriscoll, Rory Best and Jonathan Sexton — are away on a tour of Australia along with the very best from Britain and Ireland, Kiss has a roster full of pros. Ireland is ranked eighth among the International Rugby Boards top 100 countries, and Canada is 13th. Canada has never beaten Ireland. Kiss spoke slowly, making sure his point wasnt misinterpreted. "I dont see any less desire and passion and intent in their game when they put on the Canadian jersey." But something about the sound of the word amateur twists Canadian captain Aaron Carpenters face, like its a blister in his brain. "[Some might say] Oh, youre an amateur team, but then the guys go, Well, no; in our minds we are professionals," he said. Carpenter, who looks like a cube with flesh stretched across it, is among the few Canadians making a living playing rugby in Europe. But he speaks on behalf of teammates who juggle rugby life with real life. "We train like professionals, we eat like professionals. So what is that boundary? Just because we dont have a professional league in our country, that is the reason were amateurs?" The boundary has always been the touchline. Beyond it, Canadians are respectable, good-natured, but still dilettantes; within it, the game has revealed intimidating Canadian power and purpose, a daunting opponent in every World Cup. Heading into Saturday, Canada is riding a three-game winning streak, defeating the USA, Fiji and Tonga in a Pacific Nations tournament. Since 2008, head coach Kieran Crowley, who won the World Cup with New Zealand in 1987, has developed Canada into a team made not just of impressive strength, but also confident skill. Ryan Hamilton, Nathan Hirayama, Adam Kleeberger, Jason Marshall and Jebb Sinclair were young at the 2011 World Cup; now they are leaders. Nearly halfway to the 2015 World Cup, Ireland is a good test before two qualifying matches against the Americans on August 17th and 24th. But funding the mens national program, always difficult, is becoming more awkward. Prior to the 2011 World Cup, Sport Canadas Athlete Assistance Program allowed Rugby Canada to spread government funding. Less than $20,000 per athlete per year is not substantial, but it gave some the chance to train full-time at Rugby Canadas B.C. hub. But after several senior players retired following the 2011 tournament, and with Rugby 7s — a quicker, less crowded cousin of the 15s game — becoming an Olympic sport in 2016, funding was altered. No longer could the superhero-sized forwards at the front hope for funding, only the nimble backs, capable of playing the 7s and 15s game, are eligible for 17 government stipends. Few forwards have full-time pro contracts; the rest, for now, play for nothing. Crowley is confident his players are developing, and believes he has depth, but it is only really in select positions. He is trying to build a car, hoping he has all the parts for an engine. "The tight five [forwards at the front] is an area we have major concerns in, simply because those guys arent getting the games at the level they need to, or they coaching they can," Crowley said. For decades, Canada was recognized around the world for grooming forwards of otherworldly strength. Some European players once thought mountainous Canadians lived in the bush, hewing wood by day then breaking bodies on the field at night. That label could diminish. "Were doing everything we can to get [players] over to New Zealand and Europe and they are starting to pick up contracts, which is great. But there is no money for them to train and play in Canada right now," said Gareth Rees, Canadas team manager, and its greatest player. Rees and former national teammate Al Charron — the biggest of Canadas bygone big men — continue to negotiate sponsorship deals and potential playing opportunities overseas. A North American professional league, and ground sharing with Major League Soccer teams, has long been discussed, but its simply a dream. Some Canadians players will leave, because rugby demands, then demands more. "I find it frustrating that we may lose some of these athletes to go and work and support their families, who are world class," Rees said. "They may not get on a plane to go to the World Cup." And though hope maybe the one thing Rees has in abundance, he knows Crowleys coaching, alongside 7s coach Geraint John, breeds needed confidence. With so little to go around, they share all they can. Crowley helped John coach the 7s team to Pan-American gold in 2011. John is Crowleys valued assistant, helping ease the transition for well-worked 7s players joining the national team. "I think we undervalue that constantly," Rees said. "Most unions, those two coaches are fighting each other to get players and it is kind of destructive. I think it is very healthy the relationship they have, and the total commitment they have to the Canadian cause, not just the Canadian 7s or 15s." The limitations could be disheartening, but Canadas resolve has steadily hardened into an unbreakable thing. "We try and work with one another to try and get the best for, not only the best result for Canada, but the best result for the player," Crowley said. "We want the players to be able to perform each time. Were working together on that." Maybe its a mistaken belief, but damn you, and your labels and your expectations. "It annoys us because we train like professionals, and the guys know that theyre in the gym when theyre not on the field. And when they are on the field, theyre training like us guys overseas are," Carpenter said. The ledger shows a hard, frustrating reality, yes; but the truth lies on the field, too. All things must be earned Saturday night, victory or defeat. And the long push will go on. Panthers T-shirts . The Islanders dealt Thomas Vanek to the Montreal Canadiens after less than a year on Long Island. Meanwhile, the Oilers dealt long-time sniper Ales hemsky to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday for a fifth-round pick in 2014 and a third-rounder in 2015. Kendrick Norton Jersey . Hamelin, who triumphed in the 500 on Saturday, edged out Victor An of Russia by 0.021 seconds to maintain his lead in the World Cup standings. Russias Vladimir Grigorev was third. 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