Coach Jeff Williams reveals 26-player roster to compete next month

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LANGFORD, BC – Canada’s Men’s Under-20 head coach Jeff Williams announced his 26-man roster for the World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 in Lisbon, Portugal.

After qualifying for the U20 Trophy via a two-match series with the USA in March, Williams’ side will represent North America at the annual tournament, which will run from May 12 to 24. The 26-man roster will feature 21 of the 22 players who dressed for Canada’s second match against the USA, along with five others who were in the team’s camp throughout the month of March.

Williams’ roster has plenty of talent, as was particularly evident in Canada’s 41-6 win over the USA in the second of the two-game qualifying set, but will also possess a blue-collar attitude on the pitch.

“I think the reason this team has been successful thus far is because they’re extremely hard-working, they’re gritty and they’re able to play any style of rugby,” said Williams, whose team went 4-0 in their March series, earning a pair of wins over both Romania U19 and USA U20. “They really can play a multi-faceted game and we can change our style of play depending on varying factors that might come into play.”

While there is an impressive array of leadership on the Canadian side, there’s no doubt the team will lean heavily on two particular players, in captain Lucas Rumball and Harjun Gill, who both have Trophy experience as they donned the Maple Leaf at last year’s U20 competition.

“It’s invaluable to have those two players with us because they’ll be able to pass along information from the things that they went through last year,” Williams said. “There are all kinds of external factors that can be distracting for players and they’ll be able to draw on their experiences and keep the guys focused and on task.”

Canada has drawn into a pool with Hong Kong, Namibia and Tonga and will open the tournament against Namibia on May 12. The other pool will feature Fiji, who was relegated after last year’s Championship, along with Georgia, Portugal and Uruguay.

“There are no easy games for us,” Williams said. “The way I’m looking at it, we’re underdogs and we need to prove that we can play with these teams.

“Namibia will be very tough and they will be physical and they’ll play a very direct game. Hong Kong will well-prepared and they’ll know their game plan very well and they’ll try to play an expansive style. When it comes to Tonga, they’ve got the physical aspect where they’ll be very strong defensively and look for turnovers in the tackle. But they’ll also play an expansive, free-flowing game and they’ll be good scrummagers. We’re not taking anything for granted and the key for us will be to outwork the opposition.”

Following the round robin, the top teams in each pool will compete for the tournament title and promotion in the championship tilt on May 24.

The Trophy is the second level of the World Rugby tournament structure for U-20 national teams. The winner of the Trophy is promoted to next year’s World Rugby U20 Championship. The Canadians earned qualification into this year’s tournament after beating the USA 69-25 in the two-match aggregate series.

Last year Canada finished seventh in the Trophy competition. Canada completed the round robin with two losses, to Namibia and Japan, and a draw against Uruguay, before beating Hong Kong 33-30 in the seventh place match.

Canada’s best finish in the Trophy is second, which it ­­­earned in 2013.

The team will depart for Portugal on May 7 before opening the tournament five days later.

Canada’s World Rugby U20 Trophy 2015 Match Schedule

May 12 vs. Namibia – 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET)

May 16 vs. Hong Kong – 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET)

May 20 vs. Tonga – 7 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET)

Play-Off Schedule

May 24 – 7th Place Play-Off – 11 a.m. local time (3 a.m. PT/6 a.m. ET)

May 24 – 5th Place Play-Off – 1 p.m. local time (5 a.m. PT/8 a.m. ET)

May 24 – 3rd Place Play-Off – 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. PT/10 a.m. ET)

May 24 – Final – 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET)

Canada’s U-20 Roster for Under-20 Junior World Rugby Trophy:

Phil Berna – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC

Brendan Blaikie – (Queen’s University/Markham Irish) Markham, ON

Luke Bradley – (UVIC Vikes/Port Alberni Black Sheep) Port Alberni, BC

Owen Brombal – (James Bay AA/Guelph Redcoats) Guelph, ON

Andrew Coe – (UBC Thunderbirds/Markham Irish) Markham, ON

Paul Cuilini – (Aurora Barbarians) Vaughan, ON

Guiseppe du Toit – (UVIC Vikes) Maple Ridge, BC

Patrick Finlay – (Trinity University) Dublin, Ireland

Harjun Gill – (UBC Thunderbirds/Richmond RFC) Richmond, BC

Dylan Horgan – (UCC Rugby Club) Cork, Ireland

Dan Joyce – (Trinity University) Dublin, Ireland

Karsten Leitner – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC

Cali Martinez – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC

Ollie Nott – (UVIC Vikes) Qualicum, BC

Reegan O’Gorman (Vancouver Rowing Club) Vancouver, BC

Tony Pomroy – (Baymen RFC) Conception Bay South, NL

Mitch Rothman – (Vancouver Rowing Club) Vancouver, BC

Lucas Rumball – Captain (James Bay AA/Balmy Beach) Scarborough, ON

Mitch Santilli – (James Bay AA/Brantford Harlequins) Brantford, ON

Theo Sauder – (UBC Thunderbirds) Vancouver, BC

Emil Sehic – (Fredericton Loyalists) Fredericton, NB

John Shaw – (Bytown Blues/Ottawa Irish) Ottawa, ON

Matt Tierney – (James Bay AA/Mississauga Blues) Oakville, ON

Adrian Wadden – (Oakville Crusaders) Mississauga, ON

Bryce Worden – (Burnaby Lake RFC/Belleisle RFC) Sussex, NB

Conor Young – (Southern Districts RC) Sydney, Australia

Canada’s Under-20 Men’s Staff:

Jeff Williams – Head Coach

Ken Goodland – Assistant Coach

Todd Silverthorn – Manager

Jessica Smith – Therapist

Abby Galenzoski – Strength and Conditioning Coach

Alasdair Polson – Doctor