Langford, BC – September 9, 2019: Ahead of last weekend’s final warm-up match before the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, Canada men’s national team head coach Kingsley Jones announced the 31-player World Cup roster that will represent Canada at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Canada is one of 20 nations that have qualified for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which is being hosted for the first time ever in Asia from September 20th to November 2nd.
Five BC players will travel to Japan to represent their country: Luke Campbell, Jake Ilnicki, Phil Mack, Evan Olmstead and Conor Trainor. Campbell, Ilnicki and Mack compete in Major League Rugby, while Olmstead plays in Australia and Trainor in France. The five BC representatives will join a squad of talented players that have made large strides in recent weeks in preparation for the World Cup.
On August 30th, Canada defeated a BC All-Stars squad 45-13 at Westhills Stadium in Langford, before losing a tight contest 20-15 to the USA last Saturday. North Vancouver’s Evan Olmstead commented after the match that the Canadian side had improved significantly since the 47-19 loss to the USA in July,
“We look a lot sharper now. They’re a good team, but we’re a lot better now than we were,” said Olmstead. “We’ve had a few weeks together now, and we’ll have a few more before the World Cup, and preparation is key.”
The 2019 selection marks the third World Cup appearance for Vancouver’s Conor Trainor, the sole BC player named to the 2011, 2015 and 2019 squads. Trainor was also a part of Canada’s 2015 team alongside BC’s Phil Mack, Jake Ilnicki and Evan Olmstead, who have all received the call for 2019. Mack and Ilnicki are coming off a second consecutive Major League Rugby Championship with the Seattle Seawolves.
Meanwhile, this is the first World Cup selection for 26-year-old Luke Campbell, formerly of the University of Victoria and now playing for Major League Rugby’s Toronto Arrows. Campbell was first capped by Canada in 2018, and has very quickly earned his spot in the Canadian side.
The five BC representatives aren’t the only BC connections in the 31-man roster. Andrew Coe and Ben LeSage are former UBC Thunderbirds, whileJamie Mackenzie and Conor Keys played for the UVic Vikes. Nick Blevins, DTH Van der Merwe and Jeff Hassler spent time with James Bay AA, and Van der Merwe has previously represented BC at the provincial level.
The Canadian campaign gets underway on September 26th at 12:15 AM PST when Canada take on Italy. Canadian World Cup matches will be broadcast on TSN.
UPDATE 9/10/19: BC’s Josh Larsen has been added to the squad to replace the injured Justin Blanchet. This will be the first World Cup appearance for Larsen.