Rugby Canada's Men's U20 Team Coach Mike Shelley has today named the side that will face the United States U20s in the first of two matches this week as part of the side's final preparations for the IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy.
The two games, the first on May 23 at Shawinigan School and the second at Bear Mountain Stadium at the brand new Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, British Columbia, mark the beginning of final preparations for that tournament, which takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah, starting June 18.
Canada have been drawn in a tough pool containing beaten finalists for the past two years Japan, a strong Georgia side and an ever improving Zimbabwe, and the coaching staff is looking for the games at home against the USA to provide a springboard leading into that competition.
Preparations have so far seen the U20s take on Romania in a 23-6 loss and Canadian Rugby Championship side The Rock in a match where the young Canadians showed plenty of heart and fight before ultimately going down 41-21.
Both matches were played at Bear Mountain and Georgia U20 will also be visiting on June 9 for the final game before the teams both head south for tournament action.
"The guys know that that they are playing for places in the starting fifteen against Georgia now," Shelley said. "These next two games are good opportunities for players to put up their hands and get noticed by the coaching staff."
All the team assembled in Langford earlier this month, and Coach Shelley has been using the time with the young athletes to assess players and options. Although he said he has a good idea of his strongest line-up, he stressed that the door remains open for players to force their way into contention.
"I have a balanced team here, I have been working with many of these players for a few months now, but we still need to keep options open and have a look at all the players that weren't here," he said.
Team vs. USA May 23
1. Alex Marshall -Vandals RFC/The Rock (St. John's, NL)
2. Kurt Gibbons - Markham Irish (Markham, ON)
3. Jake Ilnicki - UVic Vikes/ Williams Lake Rustlers (Williams Lake, BC)
4. Ryan Monahan (Baymen Rugby Club, The Rock) (CBS, NL)
5. Lukas Balkovec - Uvic Vikes/ Waterloo County (Kitchener ON)
6. Jared Douglas - Abbotsford RFC (Vancouver, BC)
7. Fuku Vikilani - Burnaby Lake Club (Vancouver, BC)
8. Tua Va'a - Velox RFC (Victoria, BC)
9. Lucien Nel - UVic Vikes (Prince George, BC)
10. Doug Crowe - Vancouver Rowing Club (Courtenay, BC)
11. Tomas Costanzo - St Ann de belle (Montreal QB)
12. Graydyn Bowd - Rowing Club, Red Deer Titans (Red Deer, AB)
13.Lucas Hammond - Toronto Nomads (Toronto, ON)
14. Luc Pearson - Lindsay R.F.C (Lindsay, ON)
15. Jon West - Markham Irish RFC (Scarborough, ON)
16. Eric Selvaggi - Aurura Barbarians (Woodbridge, ON)
17. Noah Barker - Vancouver Rowing Club ( Courtenay, B.C)
18. Luke Campbell - UVIC (Victoria, BC)
19. Cam Stones - Ajaz Wanderers (Whitby, ON)
20. Caleb Hansen - Vancouver Rowing Club (Courtenay, BC)
21 Michael Fuailefau -UVIC Vikes (Victoria, BC)
22. Conor McCann - James Bay AA (Toronto, ON)
U20 upcoming schedule
Warm up matches
May 23 vs. USA U20 at Shawinigan School
May 26 vs. USA U20 at Bear Mountain
June 9 vs. Georgia U20 at Bear Mountain
IRB Junior Rugby World Trophy
June 18 vs. Georgia U20 at Utah
June 22 vs. Japan U20 at Utah
June 26 vs. Zimbabwe at Utah
June 30 Finals at Utah