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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
Canada upset by shirt snub
Canada in action against the All-Blacks
Canada failed to track down many Kiwi shirt-swappers
Canada players have complained that professionalism is killing off one of rugby's great traditions - shirt swapping.

The Cannucks say opponents no longer want to trade jerseys and admit few players managed to swap shirts with the Welsh and All Blacks in their opening World Cup matches.

Prop Kevin Tkachuk described the demise of the tradition as "upsetting".

"It's one of the nice gestures of rugby. I feel it's a sign of respect, that you respect your opponent," he said.

I guess Canada's not the sought after jersey that we like to think it was
Canadian prop Rod Snow
Veteran winger David Lougheed went to the New Zealand dressing room with a couple of Canadian jerseys to see whether the All Blacks wanted to trade, but had little success and returned empty-handed.

Centre John Cannon was among the players disappointed by his opponents' snub.

"Unfortunately. I would have liked an All Blacks jersey," he said. "That would have been a nice one. It's going to be a while before I get another chance."

But it appears shirt-swapping is not the only tradition to feel the pinch at World Cup.

Charron said: "There's less mingling and there's less socializing, having a drink with the opposite number after the game. That's disappointing.

Coach David Clark believes this is because of the top teams' attitude towards minnows such as Canada.

"Our players look forward to it," Clark said. "But when you come up the big professional teams, there's a slight arrogance about it, that they just snub their noses at those sort of things, which again is a shame."

But some players in the Canada camp are more understanding about the lack of shirt-swapping.

Prop Rod Snow admitted: "Canada, being kind of one of those rugby minnows, I guess it's not the sought after jersey that we like to think it was."

Certainly, jerseys have become high-tech and costly in recent years.

The English, South Africans, French and All Blacks are among teams that have switched to body-hugging tops that make it difficult for a tackler to grab hold, but also more difficult to take off.

Also, many New Zealand players see it as an honour to wear the All-Black strip and do not want to part with their shirt, especially as some become collectors items.

Coach Clark believes players will just have to accept this as a sign of the times.

"Attitudes changed," said Clark. "In a lot of people's eyes, it becomes a business."

Links to more Canada stories



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