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'Valuable' lessons learned in drubbing Add to ...

On the heels of Canada's worst-ever defeat to England on Saturday, Canadian rugby head coach Ric Suggitt was looking for more, wishing his young squad could have more chances to play the world champions.

It's not that Suggitt enjoyed the 70-0 hammering Canada suffered, but he believes the only way his team will improve is to play the world's toughest opponents.

Canada's biggest problem in making strides on the top rugby countries is a lack of awareness on the field, Suggitt said, which comes from game experience.

"We need to play more games of this quality," he said at a postmatch news conference. "I'd like to play England 20 times a year if we could. . . . I'm sure each and every time out we would get better."

The Canadian team's main sponsor, Custom House Global Foreign Exchange, had promised to write a cheque for $100,000 to Rugby Canada if Suggitt's team won on Saturday. As expected, it did not have to reach for the chequebook.

England put on a rugby exhibition against Canada, with a 12-try performance that boasted eight different try scorers. Jason Robinson, who led England as captain in place of the injured Jonny Wilkinson, was chosen man of the match for crossing the try line three times in front of 41,784 fans at the 75,000-seat Twickenham, England's national rugby stadium.

It was Canada's worst loss since a 74-9 pounding at the hands of Australia in 1996.

Canadian captain Kevin Tkachuk, a Regina native who plays for the Glasgow Warriors in Scotland, said the team was down after the game, but the experience was still a good one.

"Most of those guys that played today would have never played in a game of that magnitude, at Twickenham, with that sort of environment, against the sort of pace and power and ability that England represented today," he said.

"So I think it is a valuable lesson. We knew going in that we were going to get scored against. That was never a big secret."

A number of Canadians who play professionally in Europe weren't available to be selected by Suggitt because of club team commitments, but the coach wouldn't use that as an excuse.

"I don't think too much about the professional players," said Suggitt, who lives in Edmonton. "It's like a fancy car driving by my place; I can't drive that car so I stay at home and drive my minivan with my kids."

Canada's worst defeat to England before Saturday came in 1994, when it lost 61-19. The last time Canada failed to score a point against England was in 1967.

In truth, the margin of victory on Saturday could have been worse. England missed seven try conversions, leaving another 12 possible points on the field. It was 32-0 at half time.

The last time Canada played England -- ranked third in the world -- was at Twickenham in 1999, when it lost 36-11. Canada, ranked 14th in world rugby, has now played England 10 times and won only once, 15-12 in a game played in 1993 in Burnaby, B.C.

So far this year, Canada has a 2-4 record, with both wins coming against the United States.

The game against England wraps up a two-week European tour for Canada. A week earlier the national team was beaten by Italy 51-6.

For Suggitt, games like Saturday's are all about building for the 2007 World Cup, and he was pleased with the performances of three of his young players in particular, singling out Josh Jackson of Nanaimo, B.C., and Stan McKeen and Pat Fleck, both of Vancouver, for their play.

Canada's hopes weren't helped on Saturday when Jamie Cudmore, who plays professionally in France, came off with an injury 22 minutes into the first half.

The game against Canada was seen as a tune-up for the English before they play important Test matches against South Africa and World Cup runner-up Australia.

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