LANGFORD, BC – Following a highly competitive inter-squad trial match on Saturday, May 19, featuring 44 young hopefuls, head coach Jeff Williams has named a 26-man Canada Under-20 squad to play USA in a two-match World Trophy qualifying series in Houston on June 12thand 16th  The World Rugby Under-20 Trophy is an international rugby union competition contested by 8 second-tier men’s junior national teams with an under-20 age requirement. The 2017 World Rugby U-20 Trophy was the tenth annual edition of the competition and was won by Japan. Canada finished in 7th place.

With Hong Kong (Asia), Fiji (Oceania) and Namibia (Africa) already confirmed as participants for 2018 along with Samoa, who were relegated from last year’s World Rugby U-20 Championship, and the host nation, Romania, there is only the North American qualification spot left to fill. The North American qualifier (USA or Canada) will be the team with the highest aggregate score difference across the two games played in Houston.

USA will pose a stiff challenge to Canada down in Texas and the men have been hard at work preparing for the two-match qualifying series. One of the goals of the U-20 program is to integrate the junior men with the seniors to create a smooth transition between programs and lay a solid foundation for the next generation of players moving forward. Today will be the second day that the U-20 men get the chance to train with the senior centralized group of players as head coach, Kingsley Jones keeps his eye on the young talent.

It is also an opportunity for coaching staff to share thoughts and develop strategies together. U-19 head coach, Dean Murten also attended the camp this past weekend as preparations continue for the U-20 qualifying series, the June Internationals and the November World Cup qualifying repechage tournament.

After a successful camp at Shawnigan Lake School, U-20 head coach Jeff Williams had the following to say regarding the team selections:

“We decided to select fifteen forwards, eleven backs and four non-travelling reserves who will remain in camp at Shawnigan Lake School from May 21 to June 7 before travelling to Houston. Fortunately for Canada, there were several major contentious decisions on players made at our selection meeting,” said Williams.

The team is well populated with athletes already playing at the top level of Club Rugby in BC.  No less than 15 players on William’s list competed in the 2017/18 BC Premier League, presented by Onni, with a further four athletes playing in the Premier Reserve Division.  Surrey’s Reid Davis was one of the Bayside Sharks RFC players in the Men’s Division 1 Final at this year’s BC Rugby Club Finals at Abbotsford, while Elias Ergas, Will Percillier, Tyler Rowland, Owain Ruttan and Michael Smith were all in the UBC Thunderbirds side that contested the Rounsefell Cup in the Men’s Premier League Final.  There are also some notable graduates from the 2017 BC U19 Men’s team that claimed the CRC title in Nova Scotia last summer, including Brandon Schellenberger, Sam Turner, Gavin Kratz, Harrison Smith and Evan Norris.

The camp focused on technical skills critical to playing good rugby and on fitness using mini skill games. The program was led by Welshman Gethin Watts, formerly of Wales U-20, the Ospreys and Cardiff Blues. Assisting Jeff Williams was forwards coach, Adam Roberts from BC and will be joined this week by Dave Butcher and Cory Hechter, both from Ontario.  Roberts, who coaches at Earl Marriott Secondary, will be reunited with a number of familiar faces, including Michael Smith (EMS alumni) as well as Tyler Wong and Reid Davis (BC U18 Boys’ XVs 2017 Ireland Tour).

If Canada qualifies for the World Rugby Trophy it will be played in Bucharest, Romania August 24 to Sept 10 and will be preceded by a camp in Shawnigan Lake School Aug 15-23.

The objective of this group is to ensure optimal selection and preparation for the Under-20 team, so that ultimately it can challenge for the World Rugby Trophy. The intent is to raise enough capital as to ensure that players do not have to pay to play for their country.

Canada Under-20 Squad to play USA:

Steven Commerford – Brock University (Toronto, ON)
Reid Davis – Bayside RFC (Surrey, BC)
Elias Ergas – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)

Brock Gallagher – James Bay AA (Edmonton, AB)
James Hammond – Toronto Nomads (Toronto, ON)
Peter Ingoldsby – Exmouth RFC (England)
Quentin James – Perpignan (Vancouver, BC)
Gavin Kratz – UVIC Vikes (Victoria, BC)

Stephen Mallard – Swiler’s RFC (St. John’s, NL)
Logan Martin-Feek – UVIC Vikes (Victoria, BC)
Jackson Matthews – UVIC Vikes (Montreal, QC)
Jack McCarthy – Vandals RFC (St, John’s, NL)
Jack McRogers – McMaster University (Toronto, ON)
Ben Newhook – Vandals RFC (St, John’s, NL)
James O’Neill – UVIC Vikes (Cochrane, AB)
Will Percillier – UBC Thunderbirds (Victoria, BC)
Brennig Prevost – UVIC Vikes (Victoria, BC)

Emerson Prior – Trent University (Toronto, ON)
Seth Purdey – UCal at Berkeley (Shawnigan Lake, BC)
Tyler Rowland – UBC Thunderbirds (Toronto, ON)
Owain Ruttan – UBC Thunderbirds (Toronto, ON)
Brandon Schellenberger – Castaway Wanderers (Victoria, BC)
Michael Smith – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)

Sam Turner – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
Kevin Vertkas – UBC Thunderbirds (Toronto, ON)

Decision on 26th player is due to be made in due course (Hooker): 
Harrison Smith – UBC Thunderbirds (Vancouver, BC)
Tyler Wong – UVIC Vikes (Vancouver, BC)

Non-Travelling Reserves: 
Mostyn Findley – UVIC Vikes (Regina, SK)
Evan Norris – UBC Thunderbirds (Victoria, BC)
Tyler Rockwell – James Bay AA (Calgary, AB)


Saturday, May 26
Canada U-20 vs. Fraser Valley U-23
Westhills Stadium, Langford, BC
Kick off: 5:30pm ET/2:30pm PT

Friday, June 1st
Canada U-20 vs. BC U-23
Abbotsford, BC
Kick off: TBD

Tuesday, June 12th
Canada U-20 vs USA U-20
Houston, Texas
Kick off: TBD

Tuesday, June 16th
Canada U-20 vs USA U-20
Houston, Texas
Kick off: TBD

Canada’s Under-20 Men’s Team Staff:

Jeff Williams – Head Coach
Adam Roberts – Assistant Coach
Adam Kleeberger – Strength and Conditioning Coach
Pat Parfrey – Manager
Mike Flynn – Co-Manager
Derrick Pue – Video analyst
Kiyomi Thompson – Physiotherapist

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