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 fullback come Saturday and has shown his quality in this position before with a cameo against Fiji in 2017.
Vancouver’s Evan Olmstead also returns to the fray at blindside flank. The Newcastle Falcons 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 defence and attack will be key for us,” added the coach.
Shane O’Leary and 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
Canada’s 2018 Americas Rugby Championship & RWC Qualifier schedule:
Canada vs. Uruguay
January 27th at 5pm local time (8pm ET)
BC Place, Vancouver, BC
*Rugby World Cup Qualifier round 1, ARC match 1*
Watch LIVE on TSN 1 & online through TSN “GO”
Canada vs. Uruguay
February 3rd at 5pm local time (3pm ET/12pm PT)
*Rugby World Cup Qualifier round 2, not an ARC match*
Canada vs. USA
February 10th at 3pm local time
Canada vs. Brazil
February 17th at 6:30pm local time
Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC
Canada vs. Argentina XV
February 24th at 8pm local time
Canada vs. Chile
March 3rd at 1pm local time
La Pintana, Santiago, Chile