Canada Summer Tests 2021

A Look at the Canada Men’s XVs Team: Who Are the Likely 30 Heading to the UK in July

[ed. we’ve no doubt inadvertently overlooked someone, we’ll revisit the selections in a couple of weeks to update the percentages based on new data and reader feedback. Use the comment section below or email to add your thoughts.]

Who will make the trip to the UK this summer? We’re assuming it will be 30 players although Kingsley Jones would likely be in favour of taking a few more. The British and Irish Lions are taking 37 to South Africa for 8 matches and Canada took 34 to the 3 game Repechage in 2018. Canada so far have 2 matches slated for July 3rd and 10th but they’ll likely add a 3rd match on July 17th as they want the maximum preparation for the beginning of RWC 2023 qualifying in the fall.

Kingsley Jones has form for choosing players he has worked with in the past but he’s also expressed a need to blood young players who will be the future of the national team. Below are the 34 players he selected for the 2018 Repechage, we’ve crossed out those retired/injured/7s or not currently playing professionally. That leaves 20 players.

34 Players Repechage 2018
14 out (12 retire/injury/not active and 2 on 7s team)
20 in

Tyler Ardron – Chiefs/Ontario Blues (Lakefield, ON)
Kyle Baillie –Westshore RFC/Atlantic Rock (Summerside, PEI)
Noah Barker – James Bay AA/BC Bears (Courtenay, BC)
Ray Barkwill – Seattle Seawolves/Ontario Blues (Niagara Falls, ON)
Brett Beukeboom – Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues (Lindsay, ON)
Nick Blevins – Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
Hubert Buydens – NOLA Gold/Prairie Wolf Pack (Saskatoon, SK)
Luke Campbell – James Bay AA/BC Bears (Victoria, BC)
Paul Ciulini – Aurora Barbarians/Ontario Blues (Vaughan, ON)
Guiseppe du Toit – UVIC Vikes/BC Bears (Maple Ridge, BC)
Matt Evans – Cornish Pirates (Maple Bay, BC)
Doug Fraser – Castaway Wanderers/BC Bears (Ladysmith, BC)
Ciaran Hearn – London Irish/Atlantic Rock (Conception Bay South, NL) (injury)
Matt Heaton – Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock (Godmanchester, QC)
Eric Howard – NOLA Gold/Ontario Blues (Ottawa, ON)
Jake Ilnicki – Yorkshire Carnegie/BC Bears (Williams Lake, BC)
Cole Keith – James Bay AA/Atlantic Rock (Sussex, NB)
Josh Larsen – Otago (Parksville, BC)
Ben LeSage – UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
Kainoa Lloyd – Mississauga Blues/Ontario Blues (Mississauga, ON)
Phil Mack – Seattle Seawolves/BC Bears (Victoria, BC)
Jamie Mackenzie – Balmy Beach/Atlantic Rock (Oakville, ON)
Gordon McRorie – Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack (Calgary, AB)
Shane O’Leary – Nottingham Rugby (Cambleton, NB)
Evan Olmstead – Auckland/Prairie Wolf Pack (Vancouver, BC)
Pat Parfrey – Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock (St. John’s, NL)
Taylor Paris – Castres Olympique/Ontario Blues (Barrie, ON) (injury)
Lucas Rumball – Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues (Mississauga, ON)
Theo Sauder – UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears (Vancouver, BC) (7s)
Djustice Sears-Duru – Unattached/Ontario Blues (Oakville, ON)
Mike Sheppard – Stoney Creek Camels/Ontario Blues (Brampton, ON)
Matt Tierney – Pau/Ontario Blues (Oakville, ON)
Conor Trainor – USON Nevers/BC Bears (Vancouver, BC) (7s)
DTH van der Merwe – Glasgow Warriors (Victoria, BC)

Next we’ll look at players in the MLR who weren’t on that Repechage list and those playing in Europe Top Tier.

MLR 2021 Contenders (regular playing time)

Travis Larsen
Nakai Penny (injury)
George Barton
Fraser Hurst
Lockie Kratz
Corey Thomas
Quinn Ngawati
Mason Flesch
Lucas Albornoz
Robbie Povey
Nik Hildebrand
Conor Keys
Michael Smith
Tyler Rowland
Andrew Quattrin
Moe Abdelmonem
Cole Davis
Reegan O’Gorman
Jack McRogers
Will Kelly
Pat Lynott
Adrian Wadden

Europe Top Tier

Will Percillier
Tyler Duguid

So here is our best guess as of mid-May for 30 tour players, realizing that there are 5 weeks of MLR left and some players may change their selection ranking based on form during those 5 weeks. We’ve put a percentage, representing chance of being selected, beside each name with 90% being the highest at this time. We’ll revisit the article in a couple of weeks and make changes based on any new data and feedback we receive from readers.

In 2018 Jones chose 16 forwards (5 props, 2 hookers, 4 locks, 5 loose forwards) and 14 backs (3 scrum halves, 2 fly halves, 4 centres, 5 outside backs) for the summer tests. He seems to favour backline players who can play more than one role, so players like Pat Parfrey, Theo Sauder, Gord McRorie fell into that category in 2018.

Props (5)

The top 4 Sears-Duru, Keith, Ilnicki and Tierney were selected for the repechage and all are playing MLR or above on a consistent basis. They look to be a certainty at this time. The new guy is likely to be Tyler Rowland who is a recent Canada U20 player and is getting regular playing time with Toronto.

Djustice Sears-Duru (90%)
Cole Keith (90%)
Jake Ilnicki (80%)
Matt Tierney (80%)
Tyler Rowland (70%)
Nik Hildebrand (40%)
Mike Lynott (40%)

Hookers (2)

With Ray Barkwill retired Eric Howard becomes the incumbent but he shares the starting role at NOLA. Andrew Quattrin has been getting more playing minutes with Toronto. Those two come up as leading contenders at this time, with Jack McRogers a recent Canada U20 graduate looking at the 3rd spot if Jones decides to bring three hookers. The dark horse may be Benoit Piffero, he was selected at the last world cup, he was playing for Blagnac SRC in the French 3rd division. At 33, he may not fit Jones model for developing younger players for the upcoming RWC cycle. [ed. we’ve added Lindsey Stevens to the list, starting LA hooker who is Canada eligible.]

Andrew Quattrin (80%)
Eric Howard (70%)
Jack McRogers (60%)
Lindsey Stevens (60%)
Benoit Piffero (50%)

Second Row (4) and Loose Forwards (5)

This is where it starts to become more difficult as some second row can also play loose forward and vice versa. There are likely 9 spots available and we’ve put 5 of them at 90%, almost certainties. Kyle Baillie and Josh Larsen are team leaders for their respective MLR squads with regular starting roles. The same can be said for Lucas Rumball and Matt Heaton in the loose forwards. Tyler Ardron playing for Castres looks a certainty. We go to 80% and Evan Olmstead at Biarritz in the French 2nd division and Tyler Duguid look strong contenders. Olmstead at 30 has been a regular selection and Duguid is starting to hit his form with some regular appearances with Montpellier in the French Top 14. Those would be our choice for the 4 locks Baillie, Larsen, Olmstead, Duguid. That leaves two spots open in the loose forwards/second row, with 3 players at 70% it’s a choice between Mason Flesch, Mike Sheppard and Corey Thomas. One of the three may not make the UK trip if the total stays at 30.

Kyle Baillie (90%)
Josh Larsen (90%)
Evan Olmstead (80%)
Tyler Duguid (80%)
Mason Flesch (70%)
Mike Sheppard (70%)
Lucas Albornoz (60%)
Conor Keys (50%)
Paul Ciulini (50%)
Reegan O’Gorman (50%)
Adrian Wadden (50%)

Lucas Rumball (90%)
Matt Heaton (90%)
Tyler Ardron (90%)
Corey Thomas (70%)
Luke Campbell (60%)
Michael Smith (60%)
Travis Larsen (60%)
Moe Abdelmonem (60%)

Scrum Half (3)

Will Percillier would seem a certainty with appearances for Stade Francais in the Top 14. He also got some time at #10 and it would be interesting to see him get tested in that role during the tour. Jones used Gord McRorie in that dual role in the buildup to RWC 2019. Ross Braude has been getting regular starting time with Toronto which leaves a toss up between Higgins and Hurst for the 3rd scrum half if Jones goes with that configuration.

Will Percillier (90%)
Ross Braude (70%)
Jason Higgins (60%)
Fraser Hurst (60%)

Fly Half (2)

Still a big question mark for Canada. Shane O’Leary and Peter Nelson seem the front runners based on history but Robbie Povey has played well for Houston in that role. He was recently moved to fullback by Houston and with Canada a little thin in the back three he might fit that versatile back that Jones likes to have on tour. There’s also Will Kelly but he hasn’t been getting much playing time with Toronto.

Shane O’Leary (80%)
Peter Nelson (80%)
Robbie Povey (70%)
Will Kelly (50%)

Centres (4) and Back Three (5)

Ben LeSage would seem a certainty as would DTH on the wing, but DTH accounced his international retirement. It’s a question mark that affects selection, certainly he’s the best finisher available for Canada at the present time. Lockie Kratz and Quinn Ngawati, recent Canada U20 graduates, we’ve put at 80%. They need to get international experience in preparation for RWC qualification. We’ve also put Doug Fraser, Guiseppe du Toit and Pat Parfrey at 80% as veteran players who Jones has gone with before but injury updates may change that picture. Cole Davis at 70% has been selected before by Jones but injuries have prevented him from hitting his peak. Barton has been up and down on form and hasn’t been selected by Jones yet. Hassler is a big question mark as he hasn’t appeared yet this season.

Ben LeSage (90%)
Lockie Kratz (80%)
Doug Fraser (80%)
Guiseppe du Toit (80%)
George Barton (60%)

DTH (retired??) (90%)
Quinn Ngawati (80%)
Pat Parfrey (80%)
Cole Davis (70%)
Jeff Hassler (??) (40%)

Posted in National Men's XVs.