Canada Defeat Belgium 45-0 - Face Spain Next Weekend
The Rugby Canada press release calls it a "clinical performance", it was anything but against a mediocre Belgian side with 11 uncapped players. Belgium's recent wins were against Poland, Switzerland and Lithuania. Belgium weren't even in the European Tier 2 championships this year, the Netherlands beat them out for that honour. This was Canada, trying to cling on to Tier 2 status, playing a Tier 3 rugby nation.
The first half was awful, saved by a solo performance by Jason Higgins who went blindside off a ruck and scored a try. Nelson added a conversion and a penalty. Belgium never looked like scoring over the full 80 minutes, even when they had a man advantage. That may be a testament to Phil Mack who was mentioned as the defensive coach by the commentary team of Gareth Rees and Jamie Mackenzie.
The sight of Gareth trying to generate some commentary excitement into the first half by effusing over a Nelson conversion, was a snapshot of where we are and how far we've fallen in men's XVs.
The second half, thankfully, was much better and Canada ran in tries from Lucas Rumball, Ben LeSage, Cooper Coats, Michael Smith and Kainoa Lloyd. Cooper Coats was selected as the player of the match.
It wasn't much of a test and the Spain game next weekend in Ottawa will be a better measuring stick of where the men's XVs program is as it prepares for 2027, having missed out on the 2023 World Cup. from Rugby Canada
Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s produced a clinical performance to kick off their double header of Summer Fixtures as Kingsley Jones’ side defeated Belgium 45-0 at the Wanderers Grounds in Halifax, NS on Saturday.
Wet conditions following a downpour earlier in the day didn’t seem to dampen Canada’s spirits as tries from Jason Higgins, Lucas Rumball, Ben LeSage, Cooper Coats, Michael Smith and Kainoa Lloyd, as well as a series of successful conversions from a combination of Peter Nelson and Coats sealed the convincing victory.
Meanwhile, Matthew Oworu, Lindsey Stevens and Dawson Fatoric were all handed their national team debuts as they came off the bench in the second half.
“I felt we were the better team, for sure, but in the first half particularly we just made errors, unforced errors,” said Canada Head Coach Jones following the match. “So, the boys will be a little bit disappointed with some of the execution but certainly you’ve got to respect Belgium. We came out in the second half, it took a little longer than we thought but we cracked them and we’ve got some good points on the scoreboard and also able to get guys on the field to win their first cap so that’s really a good day.”
Early pressure from the Canadians paid off in the seventh minute as Higgins received the ball deep inside the Belgium half on the left wing, broke a tackle and ran it in for the match’s opening try. Nelson kicked the resulting conversion through the posts from a tight angle to make it the perfect start for the hosts.
Canada were determined to make their early momentum count and some strong running from Coats from inside his own territory saw him break through the Belgian backline and handoff to Higgins. The ball was worked out wide before Brock Webster was sent chasing a kick which he came within inches of touching down before play was called back by the referee.
Nelson then kicked a successful penalty conversion in the 16th minute to ensure the hosts extended their lead. That was followed by a scoreless period of play as both teams battled physically for possession in the middle of the pitch.
LeSage was shown a yellow card with ten minutes to go in the first half as the referee spotted an infringement at a ruck. Hoping to capitalize on their one-man advantage before the break, the visitors were left to rue a missed penalty conversion as Canada went into half time with a 10-0 lead.
After the break, a costly mistake from Belgium No. 10 Henri Dequenne handed Canada a scrum five meters out and an opportunity to get more points on the board. Following multiple pick-and-go attempts to breach the Belgian tryline, Canada put the ball through hands and Webster went over in the corner. However, the play was called back for a forward pass.
Moments later, though, Canada were able to break down the resolute Belgian defence as Rumball powered over the line to touch the ball down. Nelson’s successful conversion made the score 17-0.
Having entered the field no more than a minute earlier to replace Higgins, Ross Braude wasted no time in making his presence known as he collected a Corey Thomas pass from a scrum, evaded two Belgian defenders and swung the ball out to LeSage who finished off the move with the game’s third try in the 54th minute. Nelson continued his perfect kicking record by splitting the posts with the resulting conversion to make it 24-0 to Canada.
On the hour mark, consistent pressure from the Canadians paid off when Halifax-native Coats dove over the line to make the Wanderers Grounds crowd go wild as they lauded their hometown hero. Nelson’s successful conversion made the score 31-0.
Michael Smith got in on the action in the 65th minute as he went over for another try before Coats added two further points via the conversion. Kainoa Lloyd then completed the scoring with eight minutes left as the Canadians wrapped up a resounding win.
“I think Belgium is a good side – it is international rugby – and I think we struggled to find our feet with our patterns and our individual errors,” said Canada captain and try-scorer Rumball. “It’s been a while since we’ve come together as a team so I think just getting that rust off and getting collectively better, I think we saw that come together towards the second half and when the subs came on.”
“Obviously scoring was a pretty incredible moment, don’t get me wrong,” Coats said. “But I just think the defensive performance by us was outstanding and some of the guys really put their hands up. So, it’s really exciting moving into next week when we play Spain who are a pretty good team right now.”
Next up for Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s is a clash with Spain at TD Place in Ottawa, ON on Sunday, July 10. Purchase tickets at rugby.ca.
Canada Name Side to Face Belgium at Noon PT on Saturday - Match on TSN4
[ed. late change Botchar out, Oworu in.]
Kingsley Jones named his side to face Belgium. It isn't too far off the one we predicted based on the last match against Belgium in November 2021.
We thought Cole Keith would be starting loosehead, that goes to Djustice Sears-Duru. The absence of Cole Keith in the match day 23 is unusual and perhaps hints at an injury. Jones has gone old school with Ilnicki at tighthead and Tyler Rowland getting the bench. Liam Murray is the reserve loosehead. Quattrin as expected gets starting hooker with Lindsey Stevens the reserve spot. An interesting sidenote, they list Quattrin as Aurora Barbarians, not Toronto Arrows, something we should know or a typo by Rugby Canada?
The second row is as predicted Larsen and Keys, reserve second row/loose forwards are Campbell and Botchar. The loose forwards as predicted Rumball, Smith, Thomas.
Jason Higgins get the start at scrum half, with Braude as reserve. Disappointingly Bowd doesn't get the start at flyhalf, that goes to Nelson, but Bowd is in the reserves.
The rest of the backline is as predicted Ngawati and LeSage in the centres, Webster and Lloyd outside and Coats at the back. Reserve back is Fatoric, although Bowd is effective as a second receiver as well.
Canada defeated Belgium last November 24-0 despite being down to 14 men for over 60 minutes and down to 13 for 10 of those 60 minutes.
The match is on TSN4 at noon PT. If you don't have TSN you can buy online access for 24 hours for $7.99.
1. Djustice Sears-Duru
2. Andrew Quattrin
3. Jake Ilnicki
4. Josh Larsen
5. Conor Keys
6. Lucas Rumball
7. Michael Smith
8. Corey Thomas
9. Jason Higgins
10. Peter Nelson
11. Kainoa Lloyd
12. Quinn Ngawati
13. Ben LeSage
14. Brock Webster
15. Cooper Coats
16. Lindsey Stevens
17. Liam Murray
18. Tyler Rowland
19. Callum Botcher
20. Luke Campbell
21. Ross Braude
22. Gradyn Bowd
23. Dawson Fatoric from Rugby Canada
Head Coach Kingsley Jones has named his match day roster for this weekend’s test match, presented by DHL, against Belgium.
Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s are in Halifax, NS to take on the No. 26-ranked Belgians at the Wanderers Grounds on Saturday, July 2 (kickoff 4:00 p.m. Atlantic), before heading to Ottawa, ON next week to face Spain at TD Place. Fans can purchase tickets for those matches by clicking here.
Jones’ roster sees two of the squad’s crossover athletes with Canada’s Senior Men’s Sevens, Cooper Coats - who will be playing in his hometown - and Brock Webster, start at full back and on the wing respectively.
Gradyn Bowd of the Castaway Wanderers and Rugby Canada Academy Pacific Pride teammates Callum Botcher and Dawson Fatoric are included on the bench having been called up to the squad following their impressive performances at last month’s Coast to Coast Cup, also in Halifax, for Canada West Selects.
Jason Higgins will start at scrum half, while Lucas Rumball will captain the side as part of a roster that sees a mixture of many veterans alongside new, young talent who will get much-needed international match experience under their belts.
“We’re all looking forward to Saturday’s match against Belgium, who we’re sure will provide us with a tough test,” Jones said. “We have had a solid week of preparation both on and off the field, and it’s great that we’re able to provide an opportunity to some new faces amongst the replacements who will be hoping to make their debut. We also look forward to the home support we’ll receive from a passionate Halifax crowd at the Wanderers Grounds.”
WHERE TO WATCH
Fans in can watch Canada’s Senior Men’s 15s team take on Belgium LIVE on TSN 4, TSN.ca and the TSN App, with an encore presentation set to air on TSN 2 at 6:30 p.m. PT on Sunday.
CANADA’S SENIOR MEN’S 15s MATCH DAY ROSTER vs BELGIUM
1. Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville, ON) – LA Giltinis
2. Andrew Quattrin (Holland Landing, ON) – Aurora Barbarians
3. Jake Ilnicki (Williams Lake, BC) – Old Glory FC
4. Josh Larsen (Nanaimo, BC) – New England Free Jacks
5. Conor Keys (Stittsville, ON) – Barrhaven Scottish
6. Lucas Rumball (Markham, ON) – Toronto Arrows
7. Michael Smith (White Rock, BC) – San Diego Legion
8. Corey Thomas (Broome, Australia) – LA Giltinis
9. Jason Higgins (Cork, Ireland) – San Diego Legion
10. Peter Nelson (Dungannon, UK) – Aurillac
11. Kainoa Lloyd (Mississauga, ON) – San Diego Legion
12. Quinn Ngawati (Victoria, BC) – Rugby United New York
13. Ben LeSage (Calgary, AB) – LA Giltinis
14. Brock Webster (Uxbridge, ON) – Oshawa Vikings
15. Cooper Coats (Halifax, NS) – Halifax Tars
16. Lindsey Stevens (Sydney, Australia) - LA Giltinis
17. Liam Murray (Langley, BC) – Dallas Jackals
18. Tyler Rowland (Mississauga, ON) – Toronto Nomads
19. Callum Botcher (Vancouver, BC) – Pacific Pride
20. Luke Campbell (Victoria, BC) – Old Glory FC
21. Ross Braude (Pretoria, South Africa) – Toronto Arrows
22. Gradyn Bowd (Red Deer, AB) – Castaway Wanderers
23. Dawson Fatoric (Ottawa, ON) – Pacific Pride