LEEDS, ENGLAND – Canadian captain Tyler Ardron will start at number eight for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) test match against Italy at Elland Road in Leeds.
Ardron was injured during Canada’s Pacific Nations Cup match against Samoa in late July but has now fully recovered to return to his captaincy.
Head coach Kieran Crowley has selected his strongest available side for Saturday’s contest as Canada looks for its first win of the RWC. Italy, who are currently ranked 15thin the world and compete in the Six Nations competition, pose a big opportunity for 18th ranked Canada.
“Starting this weekend we have three games in 11 days, so there’s a short turnaround and we’ve had to manage a few players around selections and injuries, but this team is the strongest available to get the job done on Saturday,” said Crowley from Leeds.
In addition to Ardron’s inclusion, Crowley has made five more changes from his starting XV that lost to Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in front of over 68,000 fans last Saturday.
“I’m excited to make my return to the squad, especially since it’s my Rugby World Cup debut as well. I thought the team played with a lot of passion against Ireland and I’m keen to do my part on Saturday,” said Ardron.
“Italy are a fully professional side and are known for having a strong, physical forward pack so we’re going to have to match them up front,” Ardron said.
Crowley will start with the same front row of Hubert Buydens, Ray Barkwill and Doug Wooldridge. Veteran London Irish player Jebb Sinclair will partner with Clermont Auvergne’s Jamie Cudmore, giving Canada a highly experienced second row pairing.
Pickering, Ontario’s John Moonlight keeps his place at openside flanker and is joined by Nanyak Dala at blindside flanker. This pairing of two normally openside flankers gives Canada outstanding pace and ball-winning ability, an attribute that several teams are employing in this RWC.
At scrum-half, Oakville, Ontario’s Jamie Mackenzie will make his World Cup debut while Richmond’s Nathan Hirayama gets another start at fly-half, after some very impressive periods of play against Ireland.
After scoring against Ireland, DTH van der Merwe will start on the left wing while Phil Mackenzie gets the nod on the right wing. Newfoundland’s Ciaran Hearn will have a new centre partner in Victoria’s Connor Braid while Matt Evans plays at fullback.
The Mackenzie brothers are one of 10 brother pairings at this year’s RWC but are the first set of brothers in Canadian history to start a World Cup match together. The Pletch brothers, Mike and Dan, played in all four of Canada’s games at the 2007 World Cup but came off the bench on each occasion.
Canada opened their World Cup campaign with a 50-7 loss to Ireland, the defending RBS Six Nations champions, while Italy lost their World Cup opener to France 32-10Saturday at Twickenham.
Although Canada was not happy with the final scoreline, they did create some good opportunities and have identified the need to finish more clinical and improve accuracy in several areas of the game. The scrum and lineout were solid against Ireland, but the team stresses the need to stop similar threats around the set piece that Italy posses.
Canada is 2-5 all-time against Italy with their last meeting coming in June 2012 where Italy won 25-16 at BMO Field in Toronto. Canada hasn’t beaten Italy since November 2000 and has lost its last four matchups. The two sides have met just once at a previous World Cup in 2003 in Canberra where Italy won 19-14.
Saturday’s match can be seen LIVE on TSN. Kickoff is 9:30 am ET / 6:30 am PT.
Canada’s squad to face Italy – (Club), Hometown, Province
1. Hubert Buydens – (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
2. Ray Barkwill – (Unattached/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
3. Doug Wooldridge – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON
4. Jebb Sinclair – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock) Fredericton, NB
5. Jamie Cudmore – (Clermont Auvergne) Squamish, BC
6. Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
7. John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
8. Tyler Ardron – Captain (Ospreys) Lakefield, ON
9. Jamie Mackenzie – (UBCOB Ravens/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
10. Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
11. DTH van der Merwe – (Scarlets) Victoria, BC
12. Connor Braid – (Unattached/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
13. Ciaran Hearn – (Unattached/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay South, NL
14. Phil Mackenzie – (Sale Sharks/Ontario Blues), Oakville, ON
15. Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
16. Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
17. Djustice Sears-Duru – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
18. Andrew Tiedemann – (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
19. Evan Olmstead – (Parramatta Two Blues/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
20. Kyle Gilmour – (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
21. Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
22. Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
23. Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Senior Men’s Coaching Staff:
Head Coach: Kieran Crowley
Forwards Coach: Neil Barnes
Assistant Coach: Leo Crowley
Scrum Coach: Mike Shelley
Skills Coach: Graeme Moffat
Manager: Gareth Rees
Canada’s Rugby World Cup Pool Matches:
September 19 – Canada 7-50 Ireland (Cardiff, Wales)
September 26 – Canada vs. Italy (Leeds, England)
October 1 – Canada vs. France (Milton Keynes, England)
October 6 – Canada vs. Romania (Leicester, England)