Canada’s senior men’s head coach Mark Anscombe has named his squad for this month’s crucial test matches, including their 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying series with the USA.
The 32-man squad – which will be trimmed down to 26 for the final two matches – features a wealth of test experience as Canada seeks to collect wins over Georgia and Romania before battling the USA in their Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
“This Summer we’ve got different types of games: the first two in Alberta against Georgia and Romania, two big, physical teams, where we’re going to have to take care of our ball and play to our strengths," said Anscombe from Calgary.
"And then the two games against the USA are obviously hugely important as we look to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. We want to be on the front foot when we go down to San Diego and we know the public support across Canada, and especially in Alberta and Hamilton, will be a massive boost for us," added Anscombe.
The team features a number of Canada’s overseas professionals including DTH van der Merwe, Conor Trainor, Aaron Carpenter, Ciaran Hearn, Taylor Paris, Connor Braid and Evan Olmstead.
Tyler Ardron, who recently signed with Super Rugby’s Chiefs, is selected and is poised to make his return to test rugby after a long absence dating back to the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Hubert Buydens, who hasn’t suited up for Canada in more than a year also returns to the fold, as does Sean Duke, who last played test rugby for Canada in 2014. Duke is Canada’s all-time leading try scorer on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
Taylor Paris, who recently moved to Castres in the Top 14 in France, will join the team after the Alberta leg of the four-match series. There is also a spot for Shane O’Leary who played for PRO 12 side Connacht from 2014 until the conclusion of this past season. O’Leary represented Canada at the U20 level and helped Connacht win the 2015-16 league title. O’Leary and Toronto’s Andrew Coe are the only uncapped players named in Anscombe’s squad.
"We’re starting to get depth in a number of positions so there’s some competitions for starting spots and guys can’t rely on what they’ve done in the past, rather they’re being measured and selected on what they’re doing right now," said Anscombe.
Canada will face Georgia on June 10 at Calgary Rugby Park before battling Romania on June 17 in Edmonton at Ellerslie Rugby Park.
Canada will then return to Ontario as they tackle the USA on June 24 at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field in the first leg of their Rugby World Cup qualifier before heading to San Diego for the second leg on July 1.
The two teams will be playing for the right to be Americas 1 in the 2019 Rugby World Cup where they have been drawn into a pool with England, France, Argentina and Oceanic 2.
Tickets for Canada’s three homes test matches are still available. Broadcast details will announced in the coming days.
Canada’s June Series Squad (Name, club, hometown):
Tyler Ardron – (Chiefs/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
Kyle Baillie – (Westshore RFC/Atlantic Rock) Summerside, PEI
Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Gradyn Bowd – (UVIC Vikes/Prairie Wolf Pack) Red Deer, AB
Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Rob Brouwer – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
Hubert Buydens – (Saskatoon Wild Oats/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Aaron Carpenter – (Doncaster Knights/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
Liam Chisholm – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Kenora, ON
Andrew Coe – (UBC Thunderbirds/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Guiseppe Du Toit – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Maple Ridge, BC
Sean Duke – (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Rugby) Vancouver, BC
Andrew Ferguson – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Mississauga, ON
Ciaran Hearn – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock) Godmanchester, QC
Eric Howard – (Brantford Harlequins/Ontario Blues) Ottawa, ON
Jake Ilnicki – (Northampton/BC Bears) Williams Lake, BC
Conor Keys – (UVIC Vikes/Atlantic Rock) Stittsville, ON
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Gordon McRorie – (UBC Old Boys Ravens/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Dan Moor – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Shane O’Leary – (Unattached) Cork, Ireland
Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
Taylor Paris – (Castres/Ontario Blues) Barrie, ON
*Will join the team in Hamilton*
Lucas Rumball – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Scarborough, ON
Djustice Sears-Duru – (Glasgow Warriors/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Matt Tierney – (Section Paloise/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Conor Trainor – (RC Vannes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
DTH van Der Merwe – (Newcastle Falcons) Victoria, BC
Canada’s June Series Schedule:
Canada vs. Georgia — June 10 — Calgary Rugby Park — 5pm ET/2pm PT
Canada vs. Romania — June 17 — Ellerslie Rugby Park — 5pm ET/2pm PT
Canada vs. USA — June 24 — Tim Horton’s Field — 3pm ET/12pm PT
Canada vs. USA — July 1 — San Diego — 6pm ET/3pm PT