Rugby Union: Canada edge out fractious France

Canada. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

France. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

AN INSPIRED and enthusiastic Canadian side beat France in the Test in Ottawa on Saturday after both teams were reduced to 14 players.

The Canada hooker, Mark Cardinal, was sent off in the 30th minute for violent conduct, but despite the setback, Canada pushed the score from 6-6 to 15-6. Philippe Sella, in his 99th international, received his marching orders in the 69th minute for throwing a punch.

France had earlier suffered another blow when their captain, Philippe Saint-Andre, was ruled out injured, on the eve of France's month-long tour to New Zealand.

The Canadians, inspired by the kicking of Gareth Rees, who scored six penalties, were the superior side. Better organised in line- outs, rucks and mauls, they deserved their win.

A try by Emile Ntamack in the 45th minute and three penalties and a conversion by Tierry Lacroix accounted for France's points.

'It was a fair and deserved victory,' the France coach Pierre Berbizier said. 'They beat us with their energy and their enthusiasm. At no time were we able to take control of the match.'

Ian Birthwell, the Canada coach, congratulated his team. 'They were magnificent, particularly in the line-outs,' he said. 'This victory is the most meaningful for us. Even better than our wins over England and Wales.'

It was a match Sella will not forget in a hurry. Alerted by a linesman, the South African referee, Ian Rogers, had no doubt about giving the French player his marching orders. 'I had to send him off,' Rogers said afterwards.

Sella denied he had thrown a punch. 'When I got on the field, it was for the pleasure in playing and I amused myself with little punches. A Canadian player stuck his fingers in my eyes and I simply pushed him away,' Sella said.

A disciplinary hearing backed the referee's decision and Sella was suspended for one match.

Berbizier believed Sella's reputation would not be tarnished by the incident. 'Sella has not played 99 times for France on all the world's pitches to botch everything by stupid gestures on this little pitch in Ottawa,' Berbizier said.

Canada: Penalties Rees 6. France: Try Ntamack; Conversion Lacroix; Penalties Lacroix 3.

CANADA: Stewart; Toewes, Gray, Stuart (capt), Lougheed; Rees, Graf; Evans, Cardinal, Jackart; Charron, James; Gordon, McKenzie (Svoboda, 30), McKinnon.

FRANCE: Sadourny; Ntamack, Sella, Lacroix, Saint-Andre (capt; Viars, 60); Deylaud, Macabiau; Benezech, Gonzalez, Seigne; Merle, Roumat; Benetton, Benazzi, Cabannes.

Referee: M Rogers (S Africa).