It’s a game that may not have medal implications but is just as important to those playing in it.
Canada’s wheelchair rugby team will face France in the Fifth-Sixth Classification match on Saturday.
This is a match that will feature two teams that look very close to one another on the surface.
Both the Canucks and Les Bleu finished the preliminary stage with a record of one win and two losses. Their try differential is also close, recording 152 and 151 scored respectively with the only sizable difference being in tries conceded, sitting at 144 and 153.
Even when taking a deeper dive into both teams, the optics of a favourite does not get any clearer.
Canada has the second most steals in the tournament at 17 while France has only managed five, the second fewest among the eight nations competing. Despite this, the discipline game favours the French, with only five penalties committed compared to the Canadians’ 23.
One major headline of this game is it will be a battle of two of the top scorers in the tournament.
Jonathan Hivernat of Les Bleu currently leads the tournament with an astounding 95 tries, while Canada’s Zak Madell currently sits in fourth with 74 tries. Keeping both these powerhouses in check is going to be the game within the game.
Canadian head coach Patrick Cote knows the challenge awaiting them Saturday.
“France had a very solid tournament in the other pool. They gave Japan, Australia, and Denmark great games,” he said. “It is always a tough battle against France. We’re really looking forward to it … It could not have been closer on the other side.”
Continuing to add to the lack of disparity between the teams is their run of form.
Canada is coming off a comfortable win against New Zealand, while the French squeaked out a two-try win over Denmark.
Both teams have confidence going into the Saturday showdown and look to use it to great effect.
The Canadians and Les Bleu tip off at 8 p.m. JST, or 7 a.m. EST.