New faces to the long list include: former Canada U20 flyhalf Will Kelly, currently with the Dragons in Wales, Justin Blanchet, who originally hails from Quebec but currently resides in England while playing for Bedford Blues, Canada U20 standout Will Percillier, who is currently with Stade Francais in Paris and Seattle Seawolves’ forward Nakai Penny. Andrew Coe, who has split his time between Sevens and Fifteens over the last two years, returns to Canada’s Men’s Rugby Team for the first time since November of 2017.
“The squad we have selected has a good mix of experience and youth. With less than nine months until the Rugby World Cup, the ARC allows us the opportunity to give some players who played very well in 2018 but missed out on tough selection in November. Whilst it is important we have selected experienced players to help maintain continuity and confidence gained in the recent run of positive performances and victories,” said Jones.
Canada will depart for Montevideo on January 26 for the opening two test matches of the series against Uruguay on February 2ndand Brazil in Sao Paolo on February 9th.
New to this year’s ARC is the addition of a rest-week mid-tournament, meaning, with 15 of the 28 announced names plying their trade in the second season of Major League Rugby (MLR), players will have to return for club duty.
“With currently over 45 Canadians playing MLR this year, along with our overseas pros in mid-season, we are working directly with our athletes & clubs to manage their workloads and professional commitments throughout the ARC. Our relationship with the MLR Teams, in particular, Toronto Arrows, Seattle Seawolves and Austin Elite, has been excellent so far,” added Jones.
The following week Canada will return home to Westhills Stadium to take on Chile on February 22nd before facing a very strong Argentina XV, both games held under the lights at 7pm Pacific Time on Friday night.
Canada’s tournament finale is a highly-anticipated showdown on March 8thagainst their north American rivals, USA – who are two-time defending ARC champions – in Seattle, WA at Starfire Sports, home to the 2018 MLR Champion Seattle Seawolves. This contest takes place on the eve of the fourth annual HSBC Canada Sevens at BC Place in downtown Vancouver, giving fans the opportunity to watch a triple-header of international rugby within a few hours’ drive.
“We’re currently on a six-game [three test matches, 1 “A” game and two club fixtures] winning streak and it’s vitally important for us to continue building confidence as we work towards the World Cup,” Jones added.
Tickets for the two fixtures in Langford, BC can be purchased at https://rugby.ca/en/tickets. With Westhills Stadium currently under construction, the total capacity for these two test matches is 1,000, therefore seating is limited. Don’t wait to purchase!