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Team’s announced for Rugby Canada games this weekend

Harry Jones image by Ian Muir

It is a busy weekend for Canada's men's and women's rugby teams with action starting Friday with the women playing New Zealand, followed by two games on Saturday for the men's senior and under 20 teams.

Canada’s senior women will look to finish the International Women’s Rugby Series on a high Friday against Australia.

Head coach Francois Ratier has made three changes to his starting XV as Jane Kirby, Frederique Rajotte and Brittany Waters come into the lineup.

Kirby will start at hooker with Carolyn McEwen and DaLeaka Menin at prop. Laura Russell drops into lock with Kayla Mack while Jacey Grusnick, Karen Paquin and captain Kelly Russell form the back row.

Lori Josephson again starts at scrum-half while Emily Belchos moves back to fly-half after starting Canada’s last game in centre. It’ll be a Quebec connection on the wing as Rajotte joins Magali Harvey out wide while Waters and Amanda Thornborough play in the centres. Julianne Zussman occupies her usual spot at fullback.

Canada enters Friday’s game against Australia winless in the IWRS after defeats to No. 1 ranked New Zealand and No. 2 ranked England. Canada, who are the third ranked team in the world, will look to beat No. 6 Australia, who are also winless.

Friday’s game kicks off at 8:30pm ET/5:30pm PT

Canada’s men’s head coach Jeff Williams has named an unchanged squad for Game 2 of the Junior World Rugby Trophy qualifier vs. USA Saturday.

Canada takes a 34-point advantage into Game 2 after a dominating 46-12 win in Game 1 Tuesday at Ellerslie Rugby Park.

Liam Murray, Dewald Kotze and Cole Keith will form Canada’s front row with Liam Doll alongside Matt Beukeboom at lock.

Lachlan Currie is partnered by James O’Neill at flanker with Abbotsford’s Jake Thiel at No. 8.

Fraser Hurst, who was named Man of the Match in Game 1, starts at scrum-half with Will Kelly, who kicked 11 points Tuesday, at fly-half.

Elias Ergas and Anton Ngongo start on the wings with Josh Thiel and captain George Barton forming the centre combination. Montreal’s Aidan McMullan starts at fullback.

Canada got tries from Beukeboom, Ngongo, Josh Thiel, McMullan, Hurst, Jamie McNaughton and Cole Davis in Game 1 as they outscored their opponents 27-0 in the second half.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 2pm ET/11am PT

Aaron Carpenter is set to become Canada’s all-time caps leader as he will play in his 77th test match Saturday against Romania.

Carpenter, who will start at No.8, will break Al Charron’s record of 76 test caps that has lasted nearly 15 years. Carpenter tied the record last weekend against Georgia in Calgary.

“Al Charron is an absolute legend so just to be mentioned in the same breath as him is huge for me,” Carpenter said. “Just to be around this record is awesome but that’s an individual thing as we’re looking to be part of the team that wins Saturday.

“I just want to get on the pitch and get it done.”

Carpenter made his test debut in 2005 and has played in three Rugby World Cups. His 16 test tries are the fourth most in Canadian history.

Canada will be captained by Brett Beukeboom and DTH van der Merwe Saturday while Tyler Ardron makes his first appearance in a Canadian jersey since the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Anthony Luca, who made his test debut last Saturday against Georgia, will make his first test start in the front alongside Ray Barkwill and Matt Tierney.

Beukeboom will be joined by Evan Olmstead at lock with Ardron and Matt Heaton at flanker.

Gordon McRorie starts at scrum-half with Connor Braid at fly-half. Sean Duke and van der Merwe will man the wings with Nick Blevins and Conor Trainor at centre. Ciaran Hearn starts at fullback.

There is also an opportunity for Ryan Ackerman to make his test debut for Canada as he is named as a replacement.

“Romania are a tough team,” head coach Mark Anscombe said. “They’ve got big men and are a very strong team and their form of late has been very good. We’ve got a big task ahead of us but one we’re looking forward to.”

Canada is 2-5 all-time against Romania and hasn’t beaten them since the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Canada is coming off of a 13-0 loss to Georgia in Calgary last weekend. Saturday’s game is their final tune-up before they begin a two-game 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifying series against the USA on June 24 in Hamilton, Ont. The second leg is July 1 in San Diego.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 5pm ET/2pm PT

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