A look at Canada's Pool B rivals at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan

A look at Canada's Pool B rivals at the Rugby World Cup:

Italy

article continues below

World Ranking: 14

Record against Canada: 7-2-0

Skinny: Canada came close to upsetting the Azzurri at the 2015 World Cup, losing 23-18 despite dominating possession. It might have been a different result had Canada been awarded a second-half penalty try it thought was warranted on a pass knockdown. The game saw a highlight-reel try by Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe, who combined with Ciaran Hearn to go the length of the field from an Italian kickoff for a 10-0 lead.

New Zealand

World Ranking: 2

Record against Canada: 5-0-0

Skinny: The All-Blacks outscored Canada 313-54 in their previous meetings for an average winning margin of 51.8 points. At the 2003 World Cup, Canada coach David Clark opted to rotate his lineup against New Zealand, making 14 changes to protect key players for future games against Italy and Tonga. Said Clark: ''Yes we are resigned to defeat but we're going to go down fighting ... There'll be no white flag.'' New Zealand scored 10 tries in a 68-6 win.

South Africa

World Ranking: 4

Record against Canada: 2-0-0

Skinny: The two teams have not met since 2000 when the Springboks thumped the touring Canadians 51-18. But the teams have World Cup history with South Africa winning 20-0 at the 1995 tournament in a game delayed 45 minutes when the stadium lights failed on the eve of kickoff in Port Elizabeth. The ill-tempered match — known as the Battle of Boet Erasmus (after the stadium name) — saw punches thrown after Canada fullback Scott Stewart objected to Pieter Hendriks's tackle on Winston Stanley at the sideline. South Africa's James Dalton and Canada's Gareth Rees and Rod Snow were ejected — a record for a test match. Hendriks and Dalton were subsequently banned for the remainder of the World Cup. Rees, a World Rugby Hall of Famer who played in four World Cups, is Canada's media manager in Japan.

Namibia

World Ranking: 23

Record against Canada: 0-2-0

Skinny: The Canadians hammered Namibia 72-11 after losses to host France and Fiji at the 1999 World Cup. It was much closer when the teams met on a Canadian tour in 2014 in Wales with Canada winning 17-13. The Canadians are targeting the pool finale as their best shot at a win.

© Copyright Thompson Citizen