Jamie Cudmore Photo courtesy Rugby Canada.
Jamie Cudmore
Photo courtesy Rugby Canada.

DTH van der Merwe and Phil Mack, from Victoria, are in the starting line-up for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup match against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Ireland enter Saturday’s game as the defending RBS Six Nations Champions after winning four of their five games and edging out England and Wales to claim European supremacy.

Since the Six Nations, Ireland have beaten Wales and Scotland but lost to England in their final World Cup warm-up match. Ireland has reached the quarterfinals five times but have been vocal of this year that they could be victorious in the tournament.

Through six international test matches, Canada are still looking for their first win against Ireland. Ireland has won five encounters, with a historic 27-27 draw happening in June 2000 in Ontario. Their last matchup was in June 2013 when Ireland won 40-14 in front of a sellout crowd of over 20,000 fans at BMO Field in downtown Toronto. The two sides have met once at a previous World Cup: 1987, when Ireland won 46-19 in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Canada has played in eight matches in 2015 to prepare for their World Cup campaign. After playing four games in the Pacific Nations Cup in North America, Canada also played three further test matches as well as a World Cup warm-up fixture against the Guinness Pro 12 champions Glasgow Warriors. Canada has won two of their previous three matches after notching a 19-12 win over the Warriors and edging Georgia 16-15.

In his fourth Rugby World Cup, Squamish, British Columbia’s Jamie Cudmore will captain Canada for his first time at a RWC. Tyler Ardron, along with West Vancouver’s Harry Jones, is unavailable for selection due to injury.

Veteran Hubert Buydens starts at loosehead prop with Doug Wooldridge at tighthead. Ray Barkwill gets the nod at hooker.

Cudmore will partner Brett Beukeboom at lock while Kyle Gilmour and John Moonlight line up at flanker. Canada’s second most capped player of all-time, Aaron Carpenter, starts at No. 8. Carpenter and Buydens are two of three players who have played in all seven of Canada’s test matches this summer. The other, Djustice Sears-Duru, is named to the bench.

Gordon McRorie will partner Nathan Hirayama to form Canada’s halfbacks. Nick Blevins, who along with Carpenter leads Canada with three tries in 2015, is joined by Ciaran Hearn in the centers. Van der Merwe, who plays for the Scarlets, and Jeff Hassler, will play on the wings with Matt Evans at fullback. Hearn will move closer to the half-century mark when he earns his 46th cap on Saturday.

Eight members of Canada’s starting XV will be making their World Cup debuts Saturday — Barkwill, Wooldridge, Beukeboom, Gilmour, Moonlight, McRorie, Blevins and Hassler. By starting Saturday, van der Merwe and Carpenter will play in their third World Cup. Both suited up for all eight matches at the 2007 and 2011 editions of the tournament.

Saturday’s game can be seen LIVE on TSN. Kickoff is at 9:30 am ET / 6:30 am PT.