A Look at the Spanish Team to Face Canada on Saturday
When looking at the Spanish squad you might open with a line like, "11 frenchmen walk into a bar... and start the Spanish national team". If the online databases are accurate 11 of the 26 named for the Spanish team this November were born in France, 2 in New Zealand, 2 in Argentina, 1 in Fiji, leaving 10 Spanish born players on the squad. Spain are currently ranked 19th behind Uruguay (18th) and Canada are ranked 24th.
This is the match that's a must win for Canada on the tour, Georgia and Fiji were on the wish list but Spain is a must win. It's not going to be that easy though as Spain can field 11 players from Pro D2, the second tier French league. One plays in the Mitre 10 Cup in NZ, 8 play in Federale 1, the third tier of French rugby. Only 6 play in domestic Spanish leagues.
The front row is experienced, averaging about 30 years, the oldest at 34 is Beñat Auzqui. Most of the native Spanish players are in the front row. In the backs there are only two Spanish born players. Many of the backs are listed with halfback experience so handling should be crisp.
If you look at the Spanish results for this year at home, they probably go into the match as favourites. They only lost to Georgia by 10 points. 20-10, in March. Canada lost to Georgia by 32 points last weekend, unless something improves this week there could be a lot of disappointed faces around the Canadian rugby landscape on Saturday evening. Other recent results include a 30-0 win over Belgium, 16-6 over Russia and most relevant perhaps, 33-16 over Uruguay last November.
Canada will have to bring their A game, they will have to be physical in the forwards and mistake free in the backs. With DTH, Paris and Mack they have the core of an attacking engine but the forwards will need to step up and contribute. A win would raise Canada's confidence against Uruguay in Janaury, knowing that Spain beat them. A loss will put doubts in everyone's mind.
Beñat Auzqui, hooker, 34 Grenoble in Pro D2
Fernando Lopez, prop, 30, Ampo Ordizia RE in Spanish league (Argentinean)
Jean-Baptiste Custoja, prop, 23, Provence Rugby in Federale 1
Marco Pinto, hooker, 29, Bezier in Pro D2
Jesus Moreno, prop, 30, Provence Rugby in Federale 1
Jonathan Garcia, prop, 33, Nevers, Pro D2
KaloKalo Gavidi, 2nd row, 35, VRAC Quesos Entrepinares in Spanish league (Fijian)
David Barrera, 2nd row, 27, US Bressane in Federale 1
Matthew Foulds, backrow, 25, Silverstorm El Salvador in Spanish league
Lucas Guillaume, backrow, 25, Narbonne in Pro D2 (French)
Gauthier Gibouin, backrow, 27, Nevers in Pro D2
Thibaut Visensang, backrow, 25, Tyrosse in Federale 1 (French)
Fred Quercy, backrow, 25, Nevers in Pro D2 (French)
Pierre Barthère, backrow, 28, Rouen in Federale 1 (French)
Guillaume Rouet, halfback, 28, Bayonne in Pro D2 (French)
Sébastien Rouet, halfback, 31, Narbonne in Pro D2 (French)
David Mélé, halfback, 31, Grenoble in Pro D2 (French)
Mathieu Bélie, halfback, 28, Nevers in Pro D2 (French)
Álvar Gimeno, halfback, 19, VRAC Quesos Entrepinares in Spanish league
Bradley Linklater, 31, halfback, Sanitas Alcobendas Rugby in Spanish league (NZ)
Daniel Snee, wing, 32, Hawkes Bay in Mitre 10 (NZ)
Fabien Perrin, 28, centre, US Bressane in Federale 1 (French)
Thibaut Álvarez, 26, fullback, Aubenas in Federeale 1 (French)
Ignacio Contardi, 25, centre, Niort in Federale 1
Federico Casteglioni, 26, centre, VRAC Quesos Entrepinares in Spanish league (Argentinean)
Sébastien Ascarat, 28, fullback, Montauban in Pro D2 (French)