Matt Evans (Maple Bay, BC) will be one of the 11 BC Athletes travelling to France with the Canadian Men’s XV Team. Image Courtesy of Rugby Canada

Langford, BC – Canada head coach Kingsley Jones has named his 34-player long list that will travel to Europe ahead of the highly anticipated 2019 Rugby World Cup repechage tournament next month in Marseille, France.

Canada’s long list includes overseas professionals: Tyler Ardron, Jake Ilnicki, Brett Beukeboom, Evan Olmstead, DTH van der Merwe, Josh Larsen, Ciaran Hearn, Conor Trainor, Taylor Paris, Brett Beukeboom, Matt Evans and Shane O’Leary.

“I am excited with the team that we will be taking to Europe. All of our top professional players went through pre-seasons with their clubs and many are receiving regular minutes and excelling in their respective competitions,” said Jones. “Our domestic-based players and staff have worked tirelessly over the last nine months to be ready for November, and I would like to thank all the domestic clubs and coaches for their full support over this period,” he added.

Before landing in the south of France, Canada has lined up two preliminary fixtures against Oxford (October 31) and Coventry (November 5) in England. Following these two matches, the 34-man list will be trimmed down to just 30 to travel to Marseille. “These fixtures are vitally important for us, getting all the players on the same page playing to the plan.”

Canada’s top domestic internationals, who train full-time at the Al Charron Rugby Canada National Training Centre on Vancouver Island, have recently completed a busy preparation calendar over the last six months. Following their three-match June series, the team travelled to France for a two-game series against Clermont and Castres, competed for their regions in the annual Canadian Rugby Championship and played three matches in Uruguay as part of the World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge.

Held at the 5,000 seat Stade Delort in the south of France, the last-chance qualifier will see four nations – Canada, Kenya, Germany and Hong Kong – compete over three game days on November 11, 17 and 23.

“Winning three test matches in a row is a big challenge for any side and we will not underestimate the challenges we face knowing that Kenya, Germany and Hong Kong are eagerly looking to attend their first Rugby World Cup and will be bringing sides that are both determined and prepared for the three matches,” said Jones.

The winner will secure the 20thand final spot in Pool B and will face New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia next fall in various venues across Japan. These fixtures in November will be the first-ever for Canada against Kenya and Germany, while Canada has a 5-1 record all time against Hong Kong.  “The Rugby World Cup is the pinnacle of fifteens game and it’s vitally important for us to qualify.”  Canada has never failed to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, competing in all eight editions of the competition leading back to the inaugural tournament in New Zealand in 1987.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, Staff, Provincial Unions and the entire Canadian rugby and sporting community, I’d like to wish Kingsley Jones and the entire men’s team all the best next month in Marseille,” said Allen Vansen, Chief Executive Officer for Rugby Canada. “We are deeply committed to these athletes and staff, and truly believe that we have the athletes and staff to continue Canada’s legacy of competing in every Men’s Rugby World Cup. I am excited to join the rest of the country in cheering on our Men’s team in France!”