Victoria (ISN) – Rugby Canada’s U20 team will take on the USA Saturday at 7:00 pm at Bear Mountain Stadium. The game is a rematch of Wednesday’s 27-22 USA victory and will feature a revamped Canadian line-up.
Rugby Canada’s Men’s U20 Team Coach Mike Shelley has made wholesale changes to his side for this Saturday’s return match against USA U20s. Captain Jake Ilnicki is the only forward to retain his place, while Lucas Hammond is the sole remaining back, although he moves to the wing from outside centre.
The Canadian U20s lost the first game in a tight 27-22 contest, and the players now have one last chance to impress against international opposition before next month’s IRB Junior World Rugby Trophy – the highlight of the U20 annual program.
“This is quite a different team from Wednesday, Coach Shelley said. “We are looking at these two games to see who will be on the starting line-up for the first game of the JWRT against Georgia.”
Shelley and his coaching team have been working hard on ironing out issues identified in analysis of the first game, and are confident the players will step up against an American side which proved itself skilful and stubborn. “I am looking for this group to have a better performance, as they have learned something from Wednesday in terms of what the Americans bring to the table and what we didn’t take with us. Some of the boys who didn’t play last game can put right to some of that.”
Shelley said the changes would allow every one of this talented group of athletes their chance to stake their claim to a starting place against the Georgians on June 18. “If you look at our roster most of the players are completely different. This isn’t a continuation of Wednesday, it is another group of players I am looking at.”
The game will be played at Bear Mountain Stadium at the new Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence in Langford, BC, and it promises to be a great occasion for the Canadian players and fans alike. “This is the second time we have had an international game at the COE after we hosted Romania earlier in the year and it’s always a great atmosphere.
“It’s the end of a cycle for this group of players, and to be able to go out and play an international test match against our neighbours and old enemy at this venue will be a great moment for them.”
Weather forecasts are predicting a warm dry conditions perfect for running rugby and Shelley said the team are looking forward to running out in front of their home fans. “It’s promising to be a very pleasant evening and we’re looking forward to welcoming a lot of people coming out to see us,” he said.
Shelley promised the team will be going all out to give those fans something to cheer about and to show just how much they have moved on under Rugby Canada’s High Performance Program in this cycle. “For us this is a combination of five months of work, it is a great chance to measure what we have accomplished.”