Canada Name Team to Face Uruguay on Saturday: First Match of Home and Away World Cup Qualifier Series at BC Place
A few questions were answered today with the release of the Canada roster. Who will play #10, Connor Braid. Who will play fullback, Taylor Paris. Possibly the two biggest unknowns going into the match. Pat Parfrey was the go to player in that position (#10) when Shane O'Leary was injured prior to the November tour. With Matt Evans, Ciaran Hearn and Andrew Coe out of the picture, fullback was another big question. Evan Olmstead moving to blindside flanker instead of second row is another twist to the plot. It's a strong squad for Canada that should be able to get the job done on Saturday.
Coach Kingsley Jones has gone for experience in the side, 36 year old Buydens, 37 year old Barkwill along with 25 year old youngster Jake Ilnicki will man the front row to start. Coming in as replacements are Benoit Piffero, Djustice Sears-Duru and Cole Keith. Not making the cut are Matt Tierney, Anthony Luca, Martial Lagain. Canada should be able to hold their own in the sets and perhaps exert some pressure on Uruguay.
Second row is Brett Beukeboom and Josh Larsen, the addition of Larsen allows Evan Olmstead to move to blindside flanker, beefing up the Canada pack and presence at the contact area. There's no dedicated second row replacement but with three second rows starting and Admir Cejvanovic and Lucas Rumball as subs there are a number of configurations possible during the second half. Jones is going with size and bulk anticipating a very physical contest in the forwards. The other loose forwards are Matt Heaton at openside and Tyler Ardron at #8. Not making the cut is Luke Campbell.
The halfback pairing is Mack to Braid, the old James Bay combination. With Braid in at #10 some line breaks from the fly half position will be possible. He hasn't played a lot at that position lately but he has a good boot and if he keeps his head - Canada should be fine. I anticipate a few line breaks from Braid and if support play is on point Canada could generate a couple of tries through the inside backs.
Centres are Nick Blevins and Ben LeSage, there was the possibility that DTH would have taken outside centre but they've decided to put him on the wing to utilize Taylor Paris at fullback. Jones didn't bring in a lot of centres, there is a lot of talent in the BC Premier league at that position, the young 22 year old LeSage from UBC with two caps gets the nod. It's perhaps one area to watch carefully on Saturday, Brock Staller and Pat Parfrey are the subs in the backline. Gordon McRorie can sub in several positions from #9, #10 and #15. Not making the cut from the 30 man long list is Guiseppe du Toit, Kainoa Lloyd and Andrew Ferguson.
The back three is where Canada really shines and you would expect coach Kingsley Jones has come up with a strategy to make sure they get into the game early and often. Taylor Paris at fullback is a bit of a gamble, he has 24 caps and I'm not sure if any of them are at fullback, he usually plays wing. His clearing boot is a bit of an unknown as is his positional play at the back. His counter attacking is top notch so I'm expecting Canada to run back a lot of the ball sent their way from Uruguay's clearance kicks. It will be interesting to watch.
Kickoff is at 5pm and it will be shown on TSN. Prediction: Canada by 18. from Rugby Canada
VANCOUVER, BC – Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team head coach Kingsley Jones has announced the starting line-up to take on Uruguay at BC Place in Vancouver on Saturday.
The game not only serves as the first leg of the crucial Rugby World Cup qualifying round but also as the first fixture of the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship.
Victoria, BC’s Phil Mack will captain the side in what will be his 45th test match for the home team. The scrumhalf will be joined by Connor Braid in the 9/10 combination with the flyhalf recently returning to the fifteens setup from the sevens circuit. The pair boast a wealth of experience and will be looking to control the game from the back when they step out on Saturday.
Canada is also boosted by the return of Ospreys flyer, Jeff Hassler who has been showing some good form in the European Pro 14 competition. The winger is set to make his first appearance for Canada since the 2015 RWC where he scored one of the tries of the tournament and will be looking to produce more of that magic at BC Place on Saturday.
The back three is completed by Canadian try-scoring record leader DTH van der Merwe and Ontario’s Taylor Paris who possess world class ability and will be aiming to do lots of damage going forward against Uruguay. Paris, who normally features on the wing for French Top 14 side Castres will be playing full back come Saturday and has showed his quality in this position before with an cameo against Fiji in 2017.
Vancouver’s Evan Olmstead also returns to the fray at blindside flank. The Newcastle Falcons loose forward who doubles as an option in the lineout will bring much needed experience to the pack. The set pieces will be a crucial aspect of the game and Olmstead along with the rest of his forwards are looking to dominate at ruck time.
Although some of Canada’s men’s stars have returned, head coach Kingsley Jones has emphasized the importance of teamwork for this weekend’s massive clash. “We have a fair bit of quality in the team but that quality is not just going to rock up and win the game for us. We have to play as a team.
“We’ve got some players that have come into camp that haven’t been here for a while so the focus for me is the culture within the squad and getting the group on the same page,” added Jones.
With regards to tactics, Jones is looking to keep it simple and focus on the basics.
“We don’t need to have a massive game plan, accuracy around scrum time and the driving mauls is a big focus for us,” said Jones.
The team has been hard at work training in Vancouver since last Sunday and the coach is confident the boys are fully prepared for the big game.
“We know their threats and if we have discipline and don’t give more than 5 penalties away, we don’t see ourselves struggling for possession. Controlling the possession and improving the transitions between defense and attack will be key for us,” added the coach.
Shane O’Leary, Kyle Baillie, along with Matt Tierney, have been ruled out of content for Saturday’s test match, but may be available for the second leg in Montevideo.
Tickets for Canada versus Uruguay on January 27 at BC Place, along with Canada versus Brazil on February 17 at Westhills Stadium, can be purchased by clicking here
Canada’s Men’s Roster for the first leg of the 2019 Rugby World Cup Qualifier:
1. Hubert Buydens – (New Orleans Gold/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon,SK
2. Ray Barkwill – (Seattle Seawolves/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3. Jake Ilnicki – (Newcastle Falcons/BC Bears) Williams Lake, BC
4. Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
5. Josh Larsen – (Northland) Parksville, BC
6. Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
7. Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock) Godmanchester, QC
8. Tyler Ardron – (Chiefs/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
9. Phil Mack – Captain (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
10. Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
11. DTH van der Merwe – (Newcastle Falcons) Victoria, BC
12. Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
13. Ben LeSage – (UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
14. Jeff Hassler – (Ospreys/Prairie Wolf Pack) Okotoks, AB
15. Taylor Paris – (Castres/Ontario Blues) Barrie, ON
16. Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac Sporting Club/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
17. Djustice Sears-Duru – (Ealing Trailfinders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
18. Cole Keith – (James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock) Sussex, NB
19. Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
20. Lucas Rumball – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Mississauga, ON
21. Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
22. Patrick Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL
23. Brock Staller – (Meralomas RFC/BC Bears) Surrey, BC
1. LOOSE HEAD MATEO SANGUINETTI
2. HOOKER GERMAN KESSLER
3. TIGHTHEAD MARIO SAGARIO
4. LOCK IGNACIO DOTTI
5. LOCK RODRIGO CAPO
6. BLINDSIDE JUAN MANUEL GAMINARA (C)
7. OPENSIDE FRANCO LAMANNA
8. NO. 8 ALEJANDRO NIETO
9. SCRUM HALF SANTIAGO ARATA
10. OUTSIDE HALF FELIPE BERCHESI
11. WING NICOLAS FREITAS
12. CENTRE ANDRES VILASECA
13. CENTRE JUAN MANUEL CAT
14. WING LEANDRO LEIVAS
15. FULLBACK RODRIGO SILVA
16. FRONT ROW CARLOS POMBO
17. FRONT ROW MATIAS BENITEZ
18. FRONT ROW JUAN ECHEVERRIA
19. MANUEL LEINDEKAR
20. RODOLFO GARESE
21. AGUSTIN ORMAECHEA
22. GASTON MIERES
23. JOAQUIN PRADA