By Bryan Kelly
Canada’s senior men’s head coach Mark Anscombe has named his starting XV for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup qualifier vs. USA at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario.
Brett Beukeboom and DTH van der Merwe will co-captain Canada as they seek to win the first leg of the two-game series. Game 2 is July 1 in San Diego.
“It’s very important to win the first game,” head coach Mark Anscombe said. “Whoever gets victory is one up in a two test series so it’s crucial we take advantage of home field.
“It’ll be harder to go to San Diego with a loss and a win would build a lot of confidence.”
Djustice Sears-Duru, Ray Barkwill and Jake Ilnicki will form Canada’s front row while Evan Olmstead joins Beukeboom at lock. Admir Cejvanovic and Matt Heaton start at flanker with Lakefield, Ont., native Tyler Ardron at No. 8.
The experienced Phil Mack starts at scrum-half while Shane O’Leary starts at fly-half. Taylor Paris is joined on the wing by Andrew Coe while Connor Braid and van der Merwe get the nod at centre. Newfoundland’s Ciaran Hearn starts at fullback.
“We’ve picked the best team available,” Anscombe said.
Canada is 38-17-1 all-time against USA but the Eagles have won the past five matchups, including their most recent meeting during the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship in Burnaby, BC. Canada has not beaten the Americans since August 2013 when it won both legs of their Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier.
Canada has not lost a Rugby World Cup qualification match since July 2009 when they lost 12-6 to USA before rebounding to win 41-18 to make the 2011 tournament. Canada is 15-4 all-time in Rugby World Cup qualification matches.
Since the tournament’s inception in 1987, Canada has never missed a Rugby World Cup. Canada achieved its best result in 1991 when they reached the quarterfinals before being eliminated by New Zealand. USA, who has played in seven of the previous eight tournaments, has never advanced out of the pool stages.
Saturday’s game kicks off at 3pm ET/12pm PT and can be seen LIVE on TSN. Tickets are still available by clicking here.
Canada Team to Face USA (Name, club, hometown):
- Djustice Sears-Duru – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
- Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
- Jake Ilnicki – (Northampton/BC Bears) Williams Lake, BC
- Brett Beukeboom, Co-captain – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
- Evan Olmstead – (Newcastle Falcons/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
- Admir Cejvanovic – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
- Matt Heaton – (Darlington Mowden Park/Atlantic Rock) Godmanchester, QC
- Tyler Ardron – (Chiefs/Ontario Blues) Lakefield, ON
- Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
- Shane O’Leary – (Unattached) Cork, Ireland
- Taylor Paris – (Castres/Ontario Blues) Barrie, ON
- Connor Braid – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
- DTH van Der Merwe, Co-captain – (Newcastle Falcons) Victoria, BC
- Andrew Coe – (UBC Thunderbirds/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
15 Ciaran Hearn – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
- Benoit Piffero – (Blagnac Sporting Club/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
- Anthony Luca – (Burnaby Lake RFC/BC Bears) Burnaby, BC
- Matt Tierney – (Section Paloise/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
- Kyle Baillie – (London Scottish/Atlantic Rock) Summerside, PEI
- Aaron Carpenter – (Doncaster Knights/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
- Gordon McRorie – (UBC Old Boys Ravens/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
- Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
- Dan Moor – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
Canada Coaching Staff:
Mark Anscombe – Head Coach
Graeme Moffat – Assistant Coach
Mike Shelley – Assistant Coach
Kelly Brown – Assistant Coach
Mark Winokur – Manager
Mallory White – Athletic Therapist
Alistair Wilson – Athletic Therapist
Dr. Steve Martin – Team Doctor
Aaron Takel – Performance Analyst
Michael Deasy – Strength & Conditioning Coach
Canada’s June Series Schedule:
Canada 0-13 Georgia —Calgary Rugby Park
Canada 9-22 Romania — Ellerslie Rugby Park
Canada vs. USA — June 24 — Tim Horton’s Field — 3pm ET/12pm PT
Canada vs. USA — July 1 — San Diego — 6pm ET/3pm PT