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Preview | Canada vs Japan – 7th June 2014

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Rugby Canada squad for Japan sees big names in but also big names out

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It’s a sign of the times: faced with more depth than could be put into a single squad, Canadian coach Kieran Crowley’s first squad of 2014 is as impressive for who’s in as it is for who is out.With a year to go until the World Cup, a veritable who’s who of talent made themselves available for this past week’s training camp, which concluded Saturday with a very combative trial match at Klahanie Park. The BC Bears Invitational vs Canada Selects match also served as to recognized the BC Rugby Union’s 125th Anniversary and it was a fitting beginning to a big season for the B.C. program, with the Bears squad running out 27-26 winners.

Aaron carpenter (left), Canada's long time captain, is set to complete his transition to international hooker while also conceding the captaincy to young Tyler Ardron. (Steve Bosch  /  PNG staff photo)

But for all the off-field pomp of the event, this was very much about Crowley and his selectors making some tough decisions from as deep a training squad as Canadian men’s rugby has ever seen.

From more than a 15 or so contending backs, Crowley could only go only a dozen at best. (He would go with 11.)

From a similar gaggle of forwards, he’s only be about to go with a baker’s dozen or so. (He’s picked 15.)

And he still has to settle on a match-day 23.

So first, the surprising ‘outs’, of which there are four.

Line up Phil Mackenzie, Conor Trainor, Sean White and Brett Beukeboom. The latter two have been steadfast and electric for Crowley’s backlines over the past three seasons, but with Mackenzie, the Sale Sharks winger, still under an injury cloud, perhaps it’s not surprising he’s out, even if he had an impressive run on Saturday, playing on the left wing. But against a powerfully in-form Jeff Hassler – on top of being named to the RaboDirect Pro12 team of the season, the Okotoks, AB, winger bagged two impressive tries for the B.C. squad – it was always going to be a tall order for Mackenzie. Trainor, on the other hand, had a great year for the Canadian sevens squad but up against the clearly in-form Ciaran Hearn as well as stalwart DTH Van der Merwe for the outside centre spot, it was another tall order for the dynamic ball runner. Van der Merwe ( like Trainor, also a candidate to play on the wing) hasn’t played since shoulder surgery shelved him in February. But he’s declared himself match fit; we can tell which player Crowley and co. prefer.

As for Sean White, he’s being slid into the ‘good enough but not outstanding’ category. The look of dejection on his face on Saturday night after the team announcement said it all. Here’s a player who’s been a fine tourist for Crowley but obviously has been judged to have no more room to move, development-wise. Gordon McRorie played a very solid game for the Canada Selects squad on Saturday, showing a fine passing and kicking game to go along with a strong presence around the breakdown. It will be interesting to see how hard the Scottish-born Calgarian is able to push Phil Mack for the starting half back role.

As for Brett Beukeboom, he was sporting a hefty head gash after the match on Saturday, so it’s hard to see that not factoring in to his losing out to Jon Phelan for the reserve lock spot. (Of course, we may see Jebb Sinclair as a secondary option there as well.)


The half backs are clear: Mack as incumbent, McRorie as young pretender. Either Underwood or Braid at fly half – given how smooth Underwood was for much of the game, you’ve got to believe he’s the first choice but Braid showed in his second half performance what he’s capable of when plays on the gain line.

In the centres, you have to believe that Blevins and Hearn are the incumbent pair, but Pat Parfrey’s slick play will push Blevins and Van der Merwe’s played at outside centre to great effect before – but coming off injury, will he really be handed a starting spot?

Jeff Hassler looks set to play left wing – how could he not be, given how he’s playing – while Taylor Paris looks set for the right. James Pritchard will be full back, unless some other option is considered – Braid? Van der Merwe? – but given his kicking strengths, it’s hard to see him being left out.

Gordie McRorie was so impressive for Canada Selects on Saturday that he's supplanted Sean White as Canada's second scrum half. (Steve Bosch  /  PNG staff photo)

It seems likely either Van der Merwe will prove to be unfit or Parfrey will sit out; there are, after all four centres for what is likely to be three spots. Harry Jones is also a factor, as he can cover pretty much anywhere in the back line.

Up front, the Buydens-Barkwill-Marshall trio looks likely to start. Aaron Carpenter is the other option at hooker, while at least one, possibly both of Ilnicki and Tiedemann will back up at prop. Tiedemann can play both sides of the scrum, and is have heaps more experience than Ilnicki, so he would seem to have the edge.

On paper, you’d expect Hotson and Cudmore in the second row, with Phelan backing up. John Moonlight is Canada’s best openside – a big thing when you’ve got Nanyak Dala breathing down your neck. But with Kleeberger’s ability to play anywhere in the back row, will he supplant Dala on the bench? Jebb Sinclair looks set to pack down at blind side – his best position – but he’s also played at lock so he could keep Phelan off the bench all together. Tyler Ardron looks set to captain the side from number eight


Pritchard, Paris, Hearn, Blevins, Hassler, Underwood, Mack, Ardron (c), Moonlight, Sinclair, Cudmore, Hotson, Marshall, Barkwill, Buydens. Reserves: Carpenter, Tiedemann, Phelan, Dala, Kleeberger, McRorie, Braid, Van der Merwe

BACKS: Nick Blevins (centre), Connor Braid (fly half), DTH Van der Merwe (outside centre/wing), Jeff Hassler (wing), Ciaran Hearn (outside centre), Harry Jones (utility), Phil Mack (scrum half), Gordon McRorie (scrum half), Patrick Parfrey (inside centre), Taylor Paris (wing), James Pritchard (full back)

FORWARDS: Tyler Ardron (number eight), Ray Barkwill (hooker), Hubert Buydens (prop), Aaron Carpenter (hooker), Jamie Cudmore (lock), Nanyak Dala (flanker), Tyler Hotson (lock), Jake Ilnicki (prop), Adam Kleeberger (back row), Jason Marshall (prop), John Moonlight (flanker) Jon Phelan (lock), Jebb Sinclair (flanker), Andrew Tiedemann (prop)

Last 10 Games played between the Canada and Japan
19-Jun-13 Japan 16 – 13 Canada
27-Sep-11 Canada 23 – 23 Japan
21-Nov-09 Japan 27 – 06 Canada
15-Nov-09 Japan 46 – 08 Canada
25-Sep-07 Canada 12 – 12 Japan
29-May-05 Japan 10 – 15 Canada
30-May-04 Japan 34 – 21 Canada
8-Jul-01 Japan 39 – 07 Canada
15-Jul-00 Canada 62 – 18 Japan
1-May-99 Japan 23 – 21 Canada

Overall Stats Canada
Overall Stats Canada

Overall Stats Japan
Games Played 22 Games Played 22
*Games Won 8 *Games Won 12
*Games Lost 12 *Games Lost 8
Games Drawn 2 Games Drawn 2
*Longest Winning Streak 3 *Longest Winning Streak 5
*Longest Losing Streak 5 *Longest Losing Streak 3
*Largest Points For 62 *Largest Points For 46
*Largest Points Against 46 *Largest Points Against 62
*Largest Winning Margin 44 *Largest Winning Margin 38
*Largest Losing Margin -38 *Largest Losing Margin -44
*Total Points For 528 *Total Points For 532
*Avg Points For 24 *Avg Points For 24.18
*Total Points Against 532 *Total Points Against 528
*Avg Points Against 24.18 *Avg Points Against 24
*Total Points Difference -4 *Total Points Difference 4
*Avg Points Difference -0.18 *Avg Points Difference 0.18
* = By Canada * = By Japan

POSSIBLE RR World Rankings outcome on Result

CAN (on 70.76 points) at home -vs- JAP (on 73.90 points)

Possible Outcome Rating Point
Will CAN
overtake JAP?
If CAN win by 1-15 points 1.014 71.77 72.89 No
If CAN win by more than 15 1.521 72.28 72.38 No
If result is a draw 0.014 70.77 73.89 No
If JAP win by 1-15 points 0.986 69.77 74.89 No
If JAP win by more than 15 1.479 69.28 75.38 No


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