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Canada blends experience and youth in roster for Americas Rugby Trophy competition

Canada's Lucas Rumball (7) scores a try during the second half of men's 15s international rugby action against Spain in Ottawa, on Sunday, July 10, 2022. Rumball leads Canada's 32-man roster for the Americas Rugby Trophy competition scheduled for later this month in Brazil. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Toronto Arrows flanker Lucas Rumball leads Canada's 32-man roster for the new Americas Rugby Trophy competition scheduled for later this month in Brazil.

The three-country developmental tournament, whose matches are not considered to have full test status, also features Brazil and Chile.

Canada opens against Chile on Oct. 21 before facing Brazil on Oct. 26, with both matches in Mogi das Cruzes, some 65 kilometres east of Sao Paulo.

At test level, the Canadians are ranked 23rd in the world while Chile is 21st and Brazil 27th.

Canada coach Kingsley Jones' squad contains familiar faces in Rumball, Kyle Baillie, Josh Larsen and Conor Keys. It includes 10 players who dressed for Canada's last outing, a 57-34 loss to No. 15 Spain on July 10 in Ottawa, where Rumball served as captain.

Rumball will serve as co-captain alongside former Arrows centre Ben LeSage, now with the Los Angeles Giltinis.

Jones is using the tournament to give playing time to veterans like Baillie, Foster Dewitt and Andrew Quattrin who have seen limited international action recently due to injury.

"I wanted to give them an opportunity to prepare through this competition looking ahead to November," said Jones.

"I need time with those guys but I also need to create depth, give these younger guys who have been playing really well an opportunity, and hopefully a good experience," he added.

The Canadian roster for the Brazil tournament features 17 players from Major League Rugby including five Arrows. There is also talent from the national under-20 team, Rugby Canada's developmental Pacific Pride side, the Canada's sevens squad and players from Canadian ranks.

Sevens athletes include Cooper Coats, Josiah Morra, David Richard, D'Shawn Bowen and Alex Russell. 

The under-20 side contributes twin brothers Takoda and Talon McMullin and Matthew Klimchuk.

Prop Emerson Prior has been called up after finishing the MLR season with the Utah Warriors after a stint in New Zealand. Another prop getting a look is Conor Young, another member of the under-20 team who has been playing in Australia in the Shute Shield.

UBC Thunderbirds flanker/captain Owain Ruttan and UVic fullback Gabe Casey get their first opportunity to represent Canada. Both were selected by the Toronto Arrows in the 2022 MLR draft with Ruttan, selected fifth overall, signing with the Arrows this week.

Canada blanked No. 26 Belgium 45-0 in its other summer test, July 2 in Halifax. 

Canada failed to qualify for the 2023 World Cup, losing a two-legged qualifying series to the 19th-ranked United States (59-50 on aggregate) and Chile (54-46). It marked the first time the Canadian men have failed to reach the sport's showcase.


Canada Roster

Gradyn Bowd, Red Deer, Alta., Castaway Wanderers/Old Glory D.C. (MLR); Callum Botcher, Vancouver, Canada sevens; Ross Braude, Pretoria, South Africa, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars/Canada sevens; Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, San Diego Legion (MLR); Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., Rugby ATL (MLR); Josh Larsen, Nanaimo, B.C., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, L.A. Giltinis (MLR); Liam Murray, Langley, B.C., Dallas Jackals (MLR); Josiah Morra, Toronto, Castaway Wanderers/Canada sevens; Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Tyler Rowland, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Lucas Rumball, Markham, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Lindsey Stevens, Sydney, Australia, L.A. Giltinis (MLR); Corey Thomas, Broome, Australia, L.A. Giltinis (MLR); Emerson Prior, Brockville, Ont., Peterborough Pagans, Utah Warriors (MLR); Conor Young, Yamba, Australia, Southern Districts Rugby Club; Takoda McMullin, White Rock, B.C., UBC; Talon McMullin, White Rock, B.C., UBC; Kyle Steeves, Winnipeg, Manitoba Wombats/Pacific Pride; Alex Russell, Chichester, England, McGill University/Canada Sevens; Matthew Klimchuk, Regina, Regina Rogues/UVic; Izzak Kelly, White Rock, B.C., Bayside Sharks RFC/UBC; Owain Ruttan, Cobourg, Ont., UBC/Toronto Arrows (MLR); Gabriel Casey, Ottawa, Bytown Blues/UVic; Foster Dewitt, Courtenay, B.C., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, P. E. I, Halifax Tars; Siaki Vikilani, Burnaby, B.C., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Josh Thiel, Victoria, James Bay AA; D'Shawn Bowen, Toronto, Canada sevens; David Richard, Milton, Ont., Mississauga Blues RFC; Robert Povey, Oxford, England, Houston Sabercats (MLR).


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2022.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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