Canada names unchanged starting 15 for Rugby World Cup qualifier rematch against U.S.


Coach Kingsley Jones has named an unchanged starting 15 for the second leg of Canada’s Rugby World Cup qualifying series against the U.S. Eagles.

The Canadian men won the first leg 34-21 on Sept. 4 in St. John’s, N.L. The rematch is Saturday in Glendale, Colo.

The only change in the Canadian matchday 23 is in the replacements where veteran lock Kyle Baillie comes in for Mason Flesch. Baillie was not fit last weekend.

“We’ve got a 13 point lead [in the series] at the moment and we’ve got 80 minutes to play,” Jones said. “We know it’s going to be a different challenge this week, a big challenge. We are fortunate to be able to choose the same starting 15 that have again earned this selection, while we’re happy to have Kyle fit to add to our reserve strength.”

Canada rallied from a 14-10 halftime deficit, reeling off 24 straight points to take control of the match on a sunny, very windy afternoon at Swilers Rugby Park. The final margin of victory could have been 20 points but Tavite Lopeti, in his U.S. debut, scored a converted try under the posts in the 82nd minute to cut the lead.

The win moved Canada up one place to No. 21 in the World Rugby rankings. The Eagles fell one rung to No. 17, changing places with Uruguay.

The aggregate winner of the North American playoff moves on to face Uruguay in early October with the victor slotting into Pool A at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as Americas 1 alongside No. 2 New Zealand, No. 5 France, No, 14 Italy and Africa 1.

Uruguay advanced by winning a three-team South American tournament in July. No. 28 Chile placed second ahead of No. 26 Brazil.

The Canada-U.S. series loser will meet Chile to determine who progresses to the Americas 2 playoff against the loser of the Americas 1 decider.

No. 6 Argentina, the powerhouse in the region, qualified automatically by virtue of its performance at the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The Canadian men have never missed a World Cup, although they had to qualify the hard way last time out, winning a four-team repechage to make the 2019 tournament. The Americans have only failed to qualify once, in 1995.

Last weekend’s game in St. John’s was only the third for both Canada and the U.S. since the 2019 World Cup due to pandemic-related interruptions of the international test schedule.

The Canadian victory snapped a 10-match losing streak against all competition as well as a six-game losing run and 12-game unbeaten streak against the U.S.

The Americans have lost seven straight test matches, with their last win a 20-15 decision over Canada in Vancouver in September 2019 in a World Cup warm-up.

Canadian roster:

Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville, Ont., unattached; Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Matt Tierney, Oakville, Ont., Castres Olympique (France); Corey Thomas, Perth, Australia, Los Angeles Giltinis (MLR); Conor Keys, Stittsvile, Ont., Rugby ATL (MLR); Lucas Rumball (capt.), Markham, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Matt Heaton, Godmanchester, Que., Rugby ATL (MLR); Siaki Vikilani, Burnaby, B.C., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Ross Braude, Pretoria, South Africa, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Peter Nelson, Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne (France); Kainoa Lloyd, Mississauga, Ont., James Bay AA; Spencer Jones, Cambridge, New Zealand. Toronto Arrows (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Brock Webster, Uxbridge, Ont., Canada Sevens; Cooper Coats, Halifax, Canada Sevens.

Replacements

Eric Howard, Ottawa, NOLA Gold (MLR); Cole Keith, Apohaqui, N.B., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Tyler Rowland, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, P.E.I., NOLA Gold (MLR); Michael Smith, White Rock, B.C., San Diego Legion (MLR); Rob Povey, Long Buckly, England, Houston Sabercats (MLR); Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Patrick Parfrey, St. John’s, N.L., Toronto Arrows (MLR).

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