TORONTO - The forwards on Canada's men's rugby team had just finished working on scrums and lineouts. They then gathered together with a hand in, breaking with a chant of "Bone yard!"
On the heels of a shocking loss to Japan last week, the mood was light Friday on the eve of Canada's international Test against Scotland at BMO Field.
"The forwards always have to go do extra work, whether it's scrums or lineouts or grafting," flanker Jebb Sinclair said, when queried about the chant. "Obviously the backs are over there getting a tan and shining their boots and stuff. So we've come up with a few chants we use when it's just forwards. 'Boiler room' is another one. 'Bone yard' is one. Anything that sounds like it's hard work and not pretty."
The 16th-ranked Canadians will have their work cut out for them against No. 8 Scotland.
They're looking to bounce back from a shocking 34-25 loss to Japan last Saturday in Burnaby, B.C., a game that saw the Canadians cough up a seemingly comfortable 25-9 halftime lead.
The focus of the week's preparations for Saturday's game was pretty simple, said coach Kieran Crowley.
"To move on, really," said Crowley. "We were pretty disappointed obviously on Monday. Well, we were disappointed straight after the game and that carried through. But we had to get that out of the system. Scotland is a new challenge, and we're focused on our game. . . hopefully we've got that in order for (Saturday)."
Crowley said, in pointing out the obvious, that no lead is really comfortable in rugby.
"Obviously we looked at it last week, the situation we got ourselves into, how we reacted, (to be) so far ahead at halftime and then the other team got into it," Crowley said. "But in today's game you can be up by 15, 20 points and it's only a try and then it closes right up and anything can happen.
"But we've certainly addressed that, how we need to react. We have processes in place now that hopefully we're a little bit more composed about it, and a little bit more control."
The Canadians are expecting another full house at BMO Field, what they've come to call their unofficial home. A crowd of 22,566 watched the Maori All Blacks beat the Canadians 40-15 there last November — a North American record crowd for the sport. A crowd of 20,396 watched Canada lose to Ireland earlier last season at BMO Field.
"This is the best place in the country to play, not just because I'm from here but the crowd," said captain Tyler Ardron, who grew up in Lakefield, just north of Peterborough.
Ardron said he was pleased with his team's pre-game practice Friday.
"There's some nerves, a bit of anxiety, some young guys, some cooler heads, it's all coming together right now. Being here is pretty cool with the empty stadium because you know what it's going to be like tomorrow. It went quite well, I'm happy," he said. "The lesson was just through the week the time is right now that we have to get that little work done, and make sure we're ready for that on the weekend.
"There wasn't a lot to dwell on, it was just a couple lapses that cost us the (Japan) game."
Sinclair will play his first international game of the season, having been sidelined with a leg strain, and he's one of three changes to the roster versus Japan.
Aaron Carpenter joins the front row at hooker, while scrum-half Phil Mack was also added to Crowley's lineup.
Sinclair said it's key that Canada replicates its fast start against Japan when they face the Scots.
"In the second half. . . sometimes it's OK when it's just errors," he said. "We didn't get outplayed, we didn't get outskilled, we just had a few errors that, well, ended up costing us dearly but it also gave us something to look at in video. It's pretty easy fixes, so if we shut the door, I still think we're good for 24, 27 points, and then try to keep them out of our end zone and we should be all right."
The Canadians, who have been together for about three weeks since both the international sevens season ended and other players returned home from their professional clubs abroad, face the United States next Saturday in Sacramento, Calif.
Scotland is coming off a 24-6 victory over the U.S. last weekend in Houston in Vern Cotter's first match as the Scots' head coach.
"The Canadians are similar to the Americans in that they are very athletic, very physical, very good at the conditioning part of the game and they have some explosive players, so we will need to be on top of our game," Scotland's defence coach Matt Taylor told the BBC.