Tyler Ardon captains Canada into the Rugby World Cup as head coach Kingsley Jones has named his squad for Japan 2019 just as his team gets ready to face the USA Saturday in Vancouver.
The 2019 Canadian squad is a mix of veteran and young talent with players traveling back from various leagues around the world to join the team.
Some players who were not on the roster for the summer have joined, but at the center of it all is Ardron, the powerful No. 8/flanker/lock who plays with the Chiefs in Super Rugby.
He is joined by try-scoring superstar DTH van der Merwe, who plays professionally for Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness Pro14 and who will be playing in his fourth Rugby World Cup. The presence of van der Merwe perhaps meant that impressive wing Kainoa Lloyd stays home.
The evergreen Phil Mack is in at scrumhalf, but Jones has found room for youngsters including Ben Lesage and Justin Blanchet.
“It’s been a really tough selection but that’s what we wanted," said Jones, who went for 14 backs and 17 forwards (many coaches opt for a split of 13 and 18). "The players made it difficult for us due to their commitment and efforts over the last 18 months. I’d like to sincerely thank them all."
“It’s always a challenge for coaches to find the right mix to be competitive as possible while also looking towards the future and ensuring we are in good position for 2023, and we feel we’ve achieved that. With only 10 months of preparation, it can of course be challenging — but the group is in a good space, and have met that challenge head-on."
Canada struggled to make it to Japan, losing the qualification series to the USA, and eventually having to beat Kenya, Germany, and Hong Kong in the repechage this past November.
It was the first time Canada had qualified behind the USA. The nation has competed in every Rugby World Cup, making the quarterfinals in 1991 before bowing out to New Zealand.
Canada is in Pool B and will get underway on Thursday, September 26, in Fukuoka City against No. 13-ranked Italy. Then it's defending champions New Zealand on Wednesday, October 2; fifth-ranked South Africa on Tuesday, October 8; and finally Namibia on Sunday, October 13.
In their final pre-World Cup match, the Canadian men will be taking on rivals the United States at BC Place Stadium. This game is live on FloRugby for USA-based fans.
Canada’s 2019 Rugby World Cup Roster:
Tyler Ardron (Lakefield, ON) Chiefs Captain
Kyle Baillie (Summerside, PEI) New Orleans Gold
Justin Blanchet (Montreal, QC) Unattached
Nick Blevins (Calgary, AB) Calgary Hornets
Hubert Buydens (Saskatoon, SK) Unattached
Luke Campbell (Victoria, BC) Toronto Arrows / JBAA
Andrew Coe (Markham, ON) Markham Irish
Jeff Hassler (Okotoks, AB) Seattle Seawolves
Ciaran Hearn (Conception Bay South, NL) Unattached
Matt Heaton (Godmanchester, QC) Rugby ATL
Eric Howard (Ottawa, ON) New Orleans Gold
Jake Ilnicki (Williams Lake, BC) Seattle Seawolves
Cole Keith (Sussex, NB) Toronto Arrows
Conor Keys (Stittsville, ON) Unattached
Ben LeSage (Calgary, AB) Calgary Canucks
Phil Mack (Victoria, BC) Seattle Seawolves
Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville, ON) Toronto Arrows
Gordon McRorie (Calgary, AB) Calgary Hornets
Peter Nelson (Dungannon, UK) Unattached
Shane O'Leary (Cambellton, NB) Nottingham Rugby
Evan Olmstead (Vancouver, BC) Unattached
Patrick Parfrey (St. John's, NL) Toronto Arrows
Taylor Paris (Barrie, ON) Castres Olympiques
Benoit Piffero (Issoire, France) Blagnac SCR
Andrew Quattrin (Holland Landing, ON) Toronto Arrows
Lucas Rumball (Scarborough, ON) Toronto Arrows
Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville, ON) Seattle Seawolves
Mike Sheppard (Brampton, ON) Toronto Arrows
Matthew Tierney (Oakville, ON) Castres Olympiques
Conor Trainor (Vancouver, BC) USON Nevers
DTH van der Merwe (Regina, SK) Glasgow Warriors