Canada Aims To End On A High

Canada head coach Kieran Crowley has announced his starting team to face Romania in the fourth and final pool match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup (RWC) against Romania on Tuesday in Leicester.  The Canadians, ranked 18th, will be determined to end their 2015 RWC campaign with a positive result against the 17th-ranked Romanians.   The two nations have been on the receiving end of three and two pool defeats respectively, with the Europeans rounding things off against Italy on Sunday.

Despite defeats in their previous three pool games, the Canucks have shown great determination against Tier 1 competition, pushing Ireland, Italy and France for 80 minutes while selling out each stadium they’ve played in and producing exciting, fast-paced rugby.  Their final game on Tuesday in Leicester will see them face off against a fellow Tier 2 nation and with a win, and the right combination of results elsewhere, the Maple Leaves can still finish third and seal automatic qualification to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Coach Crowley has had to make five changes to his starting XV that lost to France last Thursday.  Jamie Cudmore will once again captain the North Americans in the absence of injured Tyler Ardron.  Coming into the side is hooker Ray Barkwill, scrum-half Gordon McRorie, back-row pair Jebb Sinclair and John Moonlight, winger Jeff Hassler and fullback Harry Jones.  On the bench, Jake Ilnicki will get his first opportunity to play in the tournament while the country’s all-time leading point scorer James Pritchard may get a chance to add to his 607 points if the opportunity presents itself.

As mentioned the recovery in between games hasn’t been ideal for the men in red, who enter this clash with just four days’ rest while the Oaks will have had eight.  After Tuesday’s Test match Canada will have played three games in 11 days.  The Canadians and eastern Europeans have met three times since the turn of the century and all of those international fixtures have narrowly gone the way of the hardened side in yellow.

Their most recent two meetings took place in 2013 and 2014, with Romania winning 21-20 and 18-9 off the boot of Florin Vlaicu.  However, all those three games were played in Bucharest so on neutral soil coach Crowley is hoping his side can pick up a first win over this opponent since 1995.  Crowley says:  ‘They bring a very physical game.  Like all of the teams we have played against at the Rugby World Cup they have got a strong scrum and are effective in the drive, so we know they are going to bring that physical approach to the clash and we have to match that and also put our own game on them.’

The coach is confident that the Canadian game plan, which has won them thousands of fans at the tournament, is capable of doing the damage on Tuesday, with a real drive continuing throughout the squad to get the reward all their hard work deserves, a win:  ‘We have the team to win, for sure.  We came here to win games and haven’t yet been able to do that and we’ll approach this game exactly the same way we have the others.  We’ve done our homework, worked hard at training and hopefully we can get the result.’

Canada’s match day squad to face Romania:

  1. Hubert Buydens 
  2. Ray BarkwilL
  3. Doug Wooldridge
  4. Brett Beukeboom 
  5. Jamie Cudmore – Captain
  6. Jebb Sinclair 
  7. John Moonlight 
  8. Aaron Carpenter 
  9. Gordon McRorie 
  10. Nathan Hirayama
  11. DTH Van Der Merwe 
  12. Nick Blevins 
  13. Ciaran Hearn 
  14. Jeff Hassler 
  15. Harry Jones 
  16. Benoit Piffero
  17. Djustice Sears-Duru 
  18. Jake Ilnicki 
  19. Kyle Gilmour 
  20. Nanyak Dala 
  21. Phil Mack 
  22. Conor Trainor 
  23. James Pritchard

Photo credit: Paige Stewart