Matt Oworu

Canada v Spain – November 2023

Spain Build 35-6 Half Time Lead and Cruise to 42-20 Final Score

It was game over for Canada at half time as Spain ran in 5 tries, all converted, to lead 35-6 at the break. Canada kicked two penalties during the first 40.

The game got scrappy in the second half with Spain unable to maintain the same standard in the second 40. Canada scored two second half tries, set up by penalties to Spain, which Canada converted to some posession inside the 5 metres. The first try at 64′ by Cole Keith came after a quick tap at the 5 metres and a few phases of pick and go to cross the line. The second try came 4 minutes later with Canada awarded a 5 metre scrum, a #8 pickup by Oworu from the base of the scrum and then when the ball went wide, Mitch Richardson stepped his defender to score under the posts. Spain would score one more try to close out the match.

Overall a poor defensive effort by Canada, especially in the first 40. Canada picked up two yellow cards, the first to Nelson for slapping down a pass as the last defender, the second to Higgins for a blatant offside at the ruck.

Matt Oworu was probably Canada’s top player, it doesn’t seem unusual now, in Canada’s national program, for players coming out of the full time 7s program to be a little sharper in the XVs game. Josiah Morra was one of the few players to generate some attacking opportunities and make line breaks.

A lot of the issue seems mental now with the men’s XVs program, a losing streak, a lack of confidence, a caretaker coach who should have been sacked in 2021 when Canada failed to make the 2023 World Cup. There needs to be changes, it goes up to the CEO and the Chair of the Board, both who likely were complicit in extending the contract of Kingsley Jones. The new Director of High Performance, Stephen Aboud, needs to make his mark and start making some bold decisions.

The USA defeated Brazil 48-3 and will face Spain next Saturday, while Canada take on Brazil. The USA are operating under interim coach, Scott Lawrence, who was a former USA U20 coach, a former USA player, and has ignited some passion in the program.

Match Highlights


Tries (6) – T. Bay 2 (5′, 13′), E. Imaz (30′), G. López (37′), M. Cian (39′), M. Muñiz (76′)
Cons (6) – I. Mateu 6/6 (6′, 14′, 31′, 38′, 40′, 77′)


Tries (2) – C. Keith (64′), M. Richardson (68′)
Cons (2) – P. Nelson 2/2 (65′, 69′)
Pens (2) – P. Nelson 2/2 (4′, 27′)
YC (2) – P. Nelson (36′), J. Higgins (47′)

from Rugby Canada

Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team will play Brazil in the third place play-off of the La Vila International Rugby Cup following a 42-20 loss to Spain on Saturday.

The new four-team tournament kicked off on November 11 at El Pantano Stadium in Villajoyosa, with clear yet windy conditions. Facing the host nation, Canada took an early lead off a penalty kick from Peter Nelson, but Spain responded quickly to turn the score in their favour. Spain doubled their points in the twelfth minute, followed by a second penalty kick from Nelson to narrow the gap to 14-6. Three more converted tries from Spain gave the hosts a 35-6 lead at half-time.

“It’s disappointing. Going into the shed I thought our warm-up looked really crisp, I thought our prep all week looked really good. When the pressure came on, we didn’t respond well,” captain Lucas Rumball, who was playing in his 50th cap for Canada, said of the first half. “We had a big goal line stand right at the start of the second half, an unwillingness to give up. We go a man down, we stick it out. We do our job, we work hard and we get somewhat back into the game. Now if we can do that from square one, it’s a completely different story.”

Canada’s defence kept Spain from adding to the scoreline as the second half progressed despite two yellow cards. Gaining momentum and putting pressure on Spain in their half, Canada pushed forward, with Cole Keith scoring the team’s first try of the game, converted by Nelson.

Coming off the bench, Mitch Richardson was the next Canadian to score, securing his first senior international try by diving between the uprights. Another conversion from Nelson put the score at 35-20. However, a final Spanish score with less than five minutes left on the clock gave Spain the 42-20 win, sending Canada to the third place play-off against Brazil, who lost 48-3 to the United States earlier in the day.

“We are really disappointed. It’s imperative to start well in test matches and we failed to do that again. To put in a good performance in the second half and such a poor performance in the first half is really disappointing,” said Head Coach Kingsley Jones. “We compounded errors and were on the wrong end of a few 50/50 calls, but we need to make sure we respond positively and move onto the next job quickly. We defended admirably in the second half despite two yellow cards and it gave us belief. The boys showed a lot of pride and grit, which they needed to do after what was a very, very disappointing first half. We will be working hard this week and find a solution to ensure we have an effective start in next week’s game versus Brazil.”

Canada faces Brazil on November 18 (7:00am PT / 10:00am ET), with the match available live on TSN+, the new stand-alone digital streaming service from Canada’s Sports Leader. TSN+ is home to an extensive slate of live sports coverage from around the world, including Rugby Canada matches. For more information on TSN+, including subscription options, visit

Rugby Canada Announce Team to Face Spain on Saturday: 11am PT on TSN+

Rugby Canada have named their squad to face Spain on Saturday, kickoff is 11am PT on Saturday and streamed on TSN+.

Canada’s record against Spain is 2-1 with the most recent a loss in 2022.

2022 Canada 34 – Spain 57
2017 Canada 37 – Spain 27
2010 Canada 60 – Spain 22

It’s a time of rebuilding as countries look towards qualifying for the 2027 World Cup. Spain have four uncapped players in the roster, Canada has one. Reid Watkins, the Burnaby scrum half who was picked up by the Seattle Seawolves of the MLR, is set to get his first cap as reserve scrum half.

It’s an experienced forward pack with Sears-Duru, Quattrin and Keith in the front row. Kyle Baillie and Lucas Rumball in the loose forwards and Conor Keys in the second row. Some youth in the presence of Izzak Kelly at lock and Matthew Oworu at #8. Canada have really been searching for a dominant #8 and this is Oworu’s chance to show his potential.

Rob Povey is selected at flyhalf, a conservative approach, Gradyn Bowd couldn’t make the tour due to work commitments and Peter Nelson is moved to fullback. Shane O’Leary seems to have faded from the options. Upcoming youth like Max Stewart is seconded to the 7s team and remains in limbo in XVs. Jason Higgins is given the start at #9 with no sign of Ross Braude in the match 23.

Gabe Casey is given his first start at inside centre with veteran Ben Lesage outside of him. The wingers are Josiah Morra and Isaac Olson.

There’s no reason Canada with this roster can’t beat Spain – Spain with a new coach who isn’t taking control of the team until after this tournament. Kingsley Jones’ role now is as caretaker coach for two years until a permanent coach can be found to take Canada to RWC 2027. With Jamie Cudmore now installed as Toronto Arrows Academy coach, hopefully the plan is for Jones to maintain the team with key players taking the lead, until Cudmore can take over in 2025. A recent article by Neil Davidson featuring Ben Lesage is hopefully a portent of the future, key players taking the lead until a permanent head coach is selected.


1. Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville, ON) – Oakville Crusaders / San Diego Legion
2. Andrew Quattrin (Holland Landing, ON) – Aurora Barbarians / New England Free Jacks
3. Cole Keith (Apohaqui, NB) – Belleisle Rovers RFC / New England Free Jacks
4. Izzak Kelly (White Rock, BC) – Bayside RFC / University of British Columbia / Spotswood United RFC
5. Conor Keys (Stittsville, ON) – Barrhaven Scottish / Ottawa Ospreys / New England Free Jacks
6. Kyle Baillie (Summerside, PEI) – Halifax Tars / Old Glory DC
7. Lucas Rumball (Scarborough, ON) – Balmy Beach RFC / Toronto Arrows
8. Matthew Oworu (Calgary, AB) – Pacific Pride
9. Jason Higgins (Cork, Ireland) – San Diego Legion
10. Robbie Povey (Northampton, UK) – Long Bukby RFC / Houston SaberCats
11. Josiah Morra (Toronto, ON) – Castaway Wanderers / Toronto Saracens
12. Gabe Casey (Ottawa, ON) – University of Victoria
13. Ben LeSage (Calgary, AB) – Calgary Canucks / New England Free Jacks
14. Isaac Olson (Vernon, BC) – New England Free Jacks
15. Peter Nelson (Dungannon, UK) – Dungannon RFC / Toronto Arrows
16. Foster Dewitt (Courtenay, BC) – Westshore RFC / New England Free Jacks
17. Liam Murray (Langley, BC) – Dallas Jackals
18. Conor Young (Yamba, Australia) – Greater Sydney Rams / New England Free Jacks
19. Mason Flesch (Cobourg, ON) – Pacific Pride / Toronto Arrows
20. Siaki Vikilani (Vancouver, BC) – Burnaby Lake RFC / The American Raptors
21. Reid Watkins * (Okotoks, AB) – Seattle Seawolves
22. Mitch Richardson (Stoney Creek, ON) – McMaster University / Toronto Arrows
23. Andrew Coe (Markham, ON) – Rugby New York


1 Thierry Futeu
2 Álvaro García *
3 Jon Zabala
4 Mario Pichardie
5 Alex Suárez
6 Facu Domínguez
7 Matt Foulds
8 Ekain Imaz
9 Tani Bay
10 Iñaki Mateu
11 Jordi Jorba
12 Gonzalo López
13 Álvar Gimeno
14 Martiniano Cian
15 John-Wessel Bell
16 Santiago Ovejero
17 Marcos Muñiz *
18 Joaquín Domínguez
19 Marc Sánchez
20 Pepe Borraz *
21 Ike Irusta
22 Pau Aira *
23 Feta Casteglioni

* uncapped player

from Rugby Canada

The match day roster for Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team for the first round of La Vila International Rugby Cup has been named by Head Coach Kingsley Jones.

Canada faces host country Spain at El Pantano Stadium in Villa on November 11 at 8:00 p.m. local time (11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET). These two teams last met in Ottawa in July 2022, with Spain taking the win. The winner of Saturday’s match will go on to play the winner of USA vs Brazil on November 18, with the losing teams meeting in the third place play-off.

“We’re really looking forward to this match,” said Kingsley Jones. “We’ve progressed and grown since playing Spain 18 months ago in Ottawa, and we’re looking for the cohesion and continuity that we were building on the Pacific Islands tour this summer to help us put on a very good performance against a very strong Spanish side. It’s been a tough selection with a lot of good players putting their hands up, and that’s where we want to be, with depth in every position.”

Lucas Rumball will reach a milestone 50th cap for Canada when the match kicks off on Saturday. The Canadian captain first debuted for Canada in 2016 and recently re-signed with the Toronto Arrows for a sixth MLR campaign.

“What a great achievement this is for Lucas,” said Jones. “His commitment to Canadian rugby is immense, and he’s been a fantastic leader for both Canada and the Toronto Arrows, leading with his behaviours and by example.”

Reid Watkins, a Seattle Seawolves scrum-half who has represented Canada at the age-grade level, could earn his first cap coming off the bench. This match will also mark the first international start for Gabe Casey, who made his debut in Canada’s second test match versus Tonga this past August.

The match will be available live on TSN+, the new stand-alone digital streaming service from Canada’s Sports Leader. TSN+ is home to an extensive slate of live sports coverage from around the world, including Rugby Canada matches. For more information on TSN+, including subscription options, visit

Tickets are on sale here.

Rugby Canada is excited to announce the DHL Predictive Challenge. Fans will have the opportunity to vote for the players who they think will lead the team in tackles, running metres, line breaks and turnovers won ahead of Saturday’s match, with a chance to win prizes. Details on how to participate will be announced on Rugby Canada’s social media channels.

Posted in Front Page, National Men's XVs.