Canada’s head coach, Kieran Crowley, has named his 31-man squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Wales starting Sept. 18, with eight Ontario Blues and 10 Ontarians included in the roster.
Ontario’s senior provincial men’s rugby team will see eight current players participate in the prestigious tournament: Ray Barkwill (Niagara Wasps), Aaron Carpenter (Brantford Harlequins), Jamie Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders), Phil Mackenzie (Oakville Crusaders), John Moonlight (Ajax Wanderers), Djustice Sears-Duru (Oakville Crusaders), Liam Underwood (Balmy Beach), and Doug Wooldridge (Lindsay).
An additional two Ontario Blues program alumni have also been selected for Canada’s World Cup squad: national team captain and former McMaster Marauder Tyler Ardron (Peterborough Pagans) and Brett Beukeboom (Lindsay).
“Rugby Ontario is extremely proud that 10 of our developed athletes will be representing Canada at the World Cup,” said David Butcher, Rugby Ontario manager of high performance. “The fact that all 10 athletes have spent time in the Ontario Blues system exemplifies what a strong provincial program we have here in Ontario. The 10 Ontarians, along with the entire national team, will have the full, passionate backing of everyone back home throughout the World Cup.”
Canada had named an initial 35-man roster after the Pacific Nations Cup, but had to trim it down to 31 before the end of the month. Two Ontario Blues – Tom Dolezel (London, Ont.) and Taylor Paris (Barrie, Ont.) – will miss the tournament with injuries.
The squad features 17 forwards and 14 backs and will be captained by Ardron, who makes his World Cup debut.
“Tyler is part of the leadership group at Ospreys and captained them during the Six Nations this year,” said head coach Crowley. “He’s young but will call on the experience of Jamie Cudmore, former McMaster Marauder Aaron Carpenter, Hubert Buydens and DTH Van Der Merwe, who all have World Cup experience, to help provide leadership.”
Compared to their Pool D opponents, the team is relatively young with 18 players making their World Cup debuts. There are only 650 test caps between all 31 players selected to the World Cup squad.
Ontario’s World Cup returnees are Carpenter (2007, 2011) and Phil Mackenzie (2011), while the remaining eight Ontarians are set to make their World Cup debuts.
Canada has been drawn into Pool D where they will face world ranked number two Ireland, 2011 RWC runners up France, Six Nations participants Italy and Romania, who have a fully funded professional set up. Canada has played all four teams before at a World Cup and is 2-5 with the two wins coming against Romania in 1991 and 1995.
Canada, currently ranked 18th in the world and lowest among Pool D members, had their best finish at a World Cup in 1991, when the team reached the quarter-finals.
Canada’s Rugby World Cup 31-Man Roster:
Tyler Ardron – Captain (Ospreys) Lakefield, ON
Ray Barkwill – (Castaway Wanderers/Ontario Blues) Niagara Falls, ON
Brett Beukeboom – (Cornish Pirates) Lindsay, ON
Nick Blevins – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
Connor Braid – (Unattached/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Hubert Buydens – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Aaron Carpenter – (Cornish Pirates/Ontario Blues) Brantford, ON
Jamie Cudmore – (Clermont Auvergne) Squamish, BC
Nanyak Dala – (Castaway Wanderers/Prairie Wolf Pack) Saskatoon, SK
Matt Evans – (Cornish Pirates) Maple Bay, BC
Kyle Gilmour – (Rotherham Titans/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
Jeff Hassler – (Ospreys) Okotoks, AB
Ciaran Hearn – (Castaway Wanderers/Atlantic Rock) Conception Bay, NL
Nathan Hirayama – (UVIC Vikes/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Harry Jones – (Capilano RFC/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Phil Mack – (James Bay AA/BC Bears) Victoria, BC
Jamie Mackenzie – (UBCOB Ravens/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Phil Mackenzie – (Sale Sharks/Ontario Blues), Oakville, ON
Jason Marshall – (Agen/BC Bears) North Vancouver, BC
Gordon McRorie – (Calgary Hornets/Prairie Wolf Pack) Calgary, AB
John Moonlight – (James Bay AA/Ontario Blues) Pickering, ON
Evan Olmstead – (Parramatta Two Blues/Prairie Wolf Pack) Vancouver, BC
Benoit Piffero – (Unattached/Atlantic Rock) Montreal, QC
Djustice Sears-Duru – (Oakville Crusaders/Ontario Blues) Oakville, ON
Jebb Sinclair – (London Irish/Atlantic Rock) Fredericton, NB
Richard Thorpe – (London Welsh) Beckenham, England
Andrew Tiedemann – (Unattached/Prairie Wolf Pack) St. Albert, AB
Conor Trainor – (UBCOB Ravens/BC Bears) Vancouver, BC
Liam Underwood – (Balmy Beach RFC/Ontario Blues) Toronto, ON
DTH van der Merwe – (Scarlets) Victoria, BC
Doug Wooldridge – (Lindsay RFC/Ontario Blues) Lindsay, ON