Canada’s Senior Men’s Team Head Coach Mark Anscombe has named his 28-man squad for the annual June test match series.
Thirty-five players recently completed a week-long training camp at Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island before a final touring squad was chosen. The squad, which will battle Japan, Russia and Italy in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto respectively, features a wealth of experience and a wave of Canada’s promising youth.
“The boys have come together really well,” Anscombe said. “We’ve worked them hard but they’ve put a lot into it and the attitude has been outstanding.”
Lead by four-time Rugby World Cup (RWC) veteran Jamie Cudmore, the squad features 12 members from Canada’s 2015 RWC campaign in Ray Barkwill, Nick Blevins, Hubert Buydens, Aaron Carpenter, Matt Evans, Jake Ilnicki, Jamie Mackenzie, Gordon McRorie, Pat Parfrey, Evan Olmstead, Djustice-Sears Duru and Cudmore.
Furthermore, after impressive performances in the 2016 Americas Rugby Championship, Kyle Baillie, Paul Ciulini, Alistair Clark, Andrew Ferguson, Eric Howard, Dan Moor, Cam Pierce, Lucas Rumball, Mozac Samson and Brock Staller all keep their place in Canada’s senior men’s setup.
The squad also features three players who have yet to earn a test cap for Canada — Godmanchester’s Matt Heaton, Calgary’s Ben LeSage and Oakville’s Matt Tierney — while Taylor Paris, Tom Dolezel and Jordan Wilson-Ross all return to round out the rest of the squad.
“We’ve been trying to find out about everyone the last few days and now we know what we’re faced with,” Anscombe said. “We can now start moving forward and developing the group as a unit.”
With three exciting test matches against top competition taking place in front of home fans across the country, Canada will look to #RISEAsOne this June as they begin the qualification process towards booking their spot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The game against 10th ranked Japan will add another chapter to Canadian rugby history by being the first ever test match held at BC Place in Vancouver, B.C. Earlier this year, the world-class stadium held the inaugural HSBC Canada Men’s Sevens, where more than 60,000 fans packed in over two days to set a new Canadian rugby attendance record.
Canada will then head to Alberta to face 19th ranked Russia at the Calgary Rugby Park, signifying the return of men’s test rugby to the city for the first time in more than a decade on June 18.
Canada’s #RISEAsOne Summer Series will come to an end on June 26 at the newly renovated BMO Field in downtown Toronto where they square off against Italy in a rematch of their 2015 RWC pool match that was narrowly won 23-18 by the 14th seeded Azzuri.
“It’s always exciting to get to the first game,” Anscombe said. “We’ve had a few weeks of preparation and have started developing some things and now the next level of excitement is getting to that first game and we’re looking forward to it.
“The challenge is there in front of us to play well in front of a home crowd.”
All three games will be broadcast LIVE on Rugby Canada’s official provider TSN. Tickets to all three of Canada’s #RISEAsOne Summer Series matches are still available and can be purchased by clicking here.
Canada’s Senior Men’s #RISEAsOne Summer Series Squad (Name, club, hometown):
Kyle Baillie – (Ohio/Atlantic Rock) Summerside, PEI
Ray Barkwill – (Sacramento/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
Nick Blevins – (San Francisco/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Hubert Buydens – (San Diego/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
Paul Ciulini – (Aurora Barbarians/Ontario Blues) Vaughan, ON
Alistair Clark – (Bay Street Pigs/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Jamie Cudmore – (Oyonnax) Squamish, BC
Tom Dolezel – (London St. George’s/Ontario Blues) London, ON
Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
Andrew Ferguson – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Mississauga, ON
Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock) Godmanchester, QC
Eric Howard – (Brantford Harlequins/Ontario Blues) Ottawa, ON
Jake Ilnicki – (San Diego/BC Bears) Williams Lake, BC
Ben LeSage – (UBC Thunderbirds/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Jamie Mackenzie – (UBCOB Ravens/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Dan Moor – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
Pat Parfrey – (Swilers RFC/Atlantic Rock) St. John’s, NL
Taylor Paris – (Agen) Barrie, ON
Cam Pierce – (Section Paloise/Kelowna Crows) Vernon, BC
Lucas Rumball – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Scarborough, ON
Mozac Samson – (Calgary Saints/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Djustice Sears -Duru – (Glasgow Warriors/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Brock Staller – (UBC Thunderbirds/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Matt Tierney – (Section Paloise/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Jordan Wilson-Ross – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Alliston, ON
Canada’s RISEAsOne Summer Series Schedule:
Canada vs. Japan, BC Place, 6pm ET/3pm PT
Canada vs. Russia, Calgary Rugby Park, 5pm ET/2pm PT
Canada vs. Italy, BMO Field, 12pm ET/9am PT