By Bryan Kelly
International men’s rugby returns to the Home of Canadian Rugby at Westhills Stadium on February 17 when Canada’s Men’s Team faces Brazil as part of the 2018 Americas Rugby Championship (ARC).
The 2018 ARC will once again see Canada, USA, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil and Argentina “A” face off in a round-robin style format across multiple locations in North and South America starting on January 27th and will crown the tournament champion on March 3rd.
Amongst the ARC competition, Canada will face Uruguay in an additional test match on February 3rd in Montevideo to decide who will represent Americas 2 in Pool D at next year’s 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. This two-game series has been dubbed “the most important of a generation”.
After a recent five-day training camp in Langford, Canada departs for London tomorrow for a Regulation 9 Training Camp with 35 of Canada’s top players. Along with weights, video analysis, two-a-day on-field team practices and one-on-one skill development sessions, the camp includes a joint training schedule with the Harlequins, along with a controlled game against Oxford.
“I am really pleased with the past week’s training here in Langford. It was great to see a mix of experienced players like Tyler Ardron, Phil Mack and Ray Barkwill and less experienced internationals getting some rugby in a controlled training session ahead of the upcoming tests against Uruguay,” said Jones.
“It was also a good opportunity for the coaches to get to see a wider younger group of Talent ID at camp and mixing it with current internationals. It’s been a very productive week and gives us some much needed close-to-game practice following the holiday break. It’s been a good start to the new year for all the players and staff.”
Canada’s roster includes nearly all of its top overseas professionals: DTH van der Merwe, Taylor Paris, Jeff Hassler, Tyler Ardron, Matt Heaton, Shane O’Leary, Djustice Sears-Duru, Matt Tierney, Benoit Piffero, Evan Olmstead, Kyle Baillie and Brett Beukeboom. Ciaran Hearn and Andrew Coe, who were both injured in Canada’s final November test match against Fiji, along with Conor Trainor and Matt Evans are unavailable for selection due to injury.
Canada’s roster has also been boosted by the return of dual-code internationals Connor Braid and Admir Cejvanovic, who recently helped Canada finish 2017 with an exciting 4th place finish in Cape Town on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
“The squad has a good balance of experience and youth. Some players are being rewarded for a very good week’s training in addition to impressing at club level over the last few months. I’m really pleased to welcome back into the 15s program Admir Cejvanovic and Connor Braid after doing so well with the Sevens,” added Jones.
Canada and Brazil have met twice in international men’s rugby, with Canada winning 52-25 at the same venue in Langford, BC in 2016. However, the following contest in 2017 would favour the South Americans, as Brazil stole a famous victory last March 24-23 in part to a last-minute try from Lucas Tranquez.
“We are excited to return home to Westhills Stadium to face Brazil on February 17th. We train here day-in, day-out and know that the local crowd will get behind us as they have done over the past few years,” added Jones.
“Brazil has knocked off both USA & Canada over the last two years and have come a long way in their development, so the game in Langford will be important for us for not only ARC points, but also redemption from last year’s loss,” said Jones.
Canada will gather in Vancouver on January 21st to prepare for facing Uruguay on the following Saturday.