phil 2 rugger
 Phil Mack photo by Paige Stewart
Coach Crowley selects 23-man side in search of first win of 2015 Rugby World Cup Thursday against 7th world-ranked France

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – Canada will hope to build on their impressive performance against Italy when they tackle their third pool opponent, France, in Milton Keynes on Thursday evening.

Although they lost 23-18 to the Azzurri, the statistics, spectators and pundits all pointed toward Canada deserving the win at Elland Road last weekend. To explain, the Canadians topped both the individual and team section for metres made and clean breaks. 

Unfortunately they could not get over the finish line in front on Saturday, but there were plenty of positives to take into this clash with the French. One of those has certainly been the form of DTH van der merwe who has attracted praise from all quarters.

He remains in a starting side that includes six changes from the team’s last outing in Leeds as Nick Blevins and Phil Mack come into the backline while Aaron Carpenter (hooker), Brett Beukeboom (lock), Kyle Gilmour and Richard Thorpe (both flank) also start.

Missing from the XV on Thursday will be Connor Braid after his tournament-ending injury against Italy while Ray Barkwill, Jebb Sinclair, Nanyak Dala, John Moonlight and Jamie Mackenzie drop out as Kieran Crowley rotates ahead of two games in a short period.

Opponents France have enjoyed a two wins from two record so far at the World Cup, having beaten Italy and Romania, with Canada preceding what’s billed as being a pool deciding match against Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Sunday, October 11.

However they’ve not been firing on all cylinders, notably against Romania, when a half-time rant from head coach Philippe Saint-Andre broadcast on television demonstrated how much the Romanians frustrated them as the two teams went in with France 17-6 ahead.

Canada will be eager to repeat their first-half showing of last weekend in order to create a similar feeling in the French camp and with Jamie Cudmore having an inside track of Top 14 rugby and many of his club-mates, he will be a key player at Stadium MK.

One player who rarely lets France down is number eight Louis Picamoles but he is given a well-earned rest on Thursday after starting both their opening pool matches. New wing Rémy Grosso, a replacement for the injured Yoann Huget, is however a starter while captain Thierry Dusautoir and powerful outside centre Mathieu Bastareaud return to a starting line-up that includes World Cup stalwart and France’s new all-time record points scorer Frédéric Michalak at fly-half.

Canada’s most recent meeting with France came in the 2011 Rugby World Cup when the eventual finalists ran out 46-19 winners, with Ciaran Hearn, van der merwe, Phil Mackenzie, Hubert Buydens, Jamie Cudmore and Carpenter all starting that contest in New Zealand.

Following this match, Canada will remain near the Midlands as their pool finale sees them face Romania in Leicester next Tuesday, with a strong finish the objective. Their sights are only on France at the moment though for what should be another thrilling game on English soil.

Thursday’s game can be seen LIVE on TSN. Kickoff is 3pm ET / 12pm PT. 

Canada Captain Tyler Ardron:

“We’ve been training well over the last few days since arriving in Leicester, despite having a quick turn-around between games. We were happy with the way we played against Italy, but disappointed in the final result and know that more is needed against France.

“We know that France are going to bring their usual flair and if it becomes an open, expansive game it may play in their favour but I think we have our strengths as well and we plan on using those to create opportunities for us,” said Ardron.  

Canada’s squad to face France – (Club), Hometown, Province

1. Hubert Buydens – (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK

2. Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON 

3. Doug Wooldridge – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON

4. Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates) Lindsay, ON

5. Jamie Cudmore – (Clermont Auvergne) Squamish, BC

6. Kyle Gilmour – (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB

7. Richard Thorpe – (London Welsh) Beckenham, England

8. Tyler Ardron – Captain (Ospreys) Lakefield, ON

9. Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC

10. Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC

11. DTH van der merwe – (Scarlets) Victoria, BC

12. Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB

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. Ray Barkwill – (Unattached/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, 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. Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK

21. Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB (TBD)

22. Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC

23. Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC

Unavailable due to injury:

Jeff Hassler – (Ospreys) Okotoks, AB

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

France team to face Canada:

1. Eddy Ben Arous

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Rabah Slimani

4. Pascal Pape

5. Yoann Maestri

6. Thierry Dusautoir (c)

7. Bernard Le Roux

8. Damien Chouly

9. Sebastien Tillous-Borde

10. Frederic Michalak

11. Brice Dulin

12. Wesley Fofana

13. Mathieu Bastareaud

14. Remy Grosso

15. Scott Spedding


16. Benjamin Kayser

17. Vincent Debaty

18. Nicolas Mas

19. Yannick Nyanga

20. Fulgence Ouedraogo

21. Morgan Parra

22. Remi Tales

23. Alexandre Dumoulin