June 22nd, 2024

Canada rugby coach names five uncapped players for men’s tournament in Spain

By The Canadian Press on October 25, 2023.

Rugby Canada men's national team Head Coach Kingsley Jones speaks to reporters after he was introduced as the new coach of the team, in Vancouver, B.C., on October 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canada coach Kingsley Jones has named five uncapped players in his 32-man roster for next month’s La Vila International Rugby Cup in Spain

The five are forwards Zephyr Melnyk and Dewald Kotze and backs Ciaran Breen, Jamin Hodgkins and Reid Watkins.

Breen and Melynk, graduates of the Pacific Pride academy, were part of the Canadian team that travelled to Fiji and Tonga in August. Kotze, another former Pacific Pride player, and Hodgkins come from the under-20 team. Watkins is with the MLR’s Seattle Seawolves.

Canada, currently ranked 23rd in the world, opens the four-team tournament against No. 19 Spain on Nov. 11 at the El Pantano stadium in the coastal town of Villajoyosa, some 365 kilometres southeast of Madrid, after the 18th-ranked Americans take on No. 26 Brazil.

The winners of those games will face off Nov. 18 in the final with the losers meeting for third place.

Kyle Baillie, Tyler Rowland and Andrew Coe return to the fold after missing out on the Pacific Islands tour. Canada lost 36-12 and 28-3 to the 16th-ranked Tongans in its first action since a 43-37 loss to No. 21 Namibia in November.

Baillie, a lock with Old Glory DC, was named to the 2023 all-MLR second team while Coe, a fullback with Rugby New York, was an all-MLR honourable mention. Rowland is one of six Toronto Arrows in the tour squad.

Sevens veterans Matthew Oworu, Josiah Morra and Josh Thiel return to the 15s team.

“I am greatly looking forward to working with this group in Spain and building upon our learnings from our summer tour,” Jones said in a statement. “We have 23 players on the roster who travelled with us to Fiji and Tonga, building continuity and cohesion.

“This is an exciting roster with players of varied backgrounds and experiences, along with many who have spent time with the Pacific Pride and our age grade teams. A common quality in each of these players regardless of experience is their work ethic and wholehearted dedication to the team. I know that they are all eager to come together as a group and get to work in Spain.”

The 32-man touring roster, which features 22 MLR players including seven from the champion New England Free Jacks, was cut down from a long list of 43.

Canada Tour Roster

Forwards: Andrew Quattrin, (Holland Landing, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Cole Keith, Apohaqui, N.B., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Conor Young, Yamba, Australia, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Dewald Kotze, Edmonton, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville, Ont., San Diego Legion (MLR); Foster Dewitt, Courtney, B.C., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Izzak Kelly, White Rock, B.C., Spotswood United RFC (New Zealand); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, P.E.I., Old Glory DC (MLR); Liam Murray, Langley, B.C., Dallas Jackals (MLR); Lucas Rumball, Toronto, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Mason Flesch, Cobourg, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Matthew Klimchuk, Pacific Pride; Matthew Oworu, Calgary, Pacific Pride; Piers Von Dadelszen, Vancouver, B.C., Oxford University; Siaki Vikilani, Vancouver, B.C., American Raptors (Super Rugby Americas); Tyler Rowland, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Zephyr Melnyk, Gabriola Island, B.C., Pacific Pride.

Backs: Andrew Coe, Markham, Ont., Rugby New York (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Ciaran Breen, Victoria, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Gabe Casey, Ottawa, University of Victoria; Isaac Olson, Vernon, B.C., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Jamin Hodgkins, Bermuda, Cardiff Met University; Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, San Diego Legion (MLR); Josh Thiel, Victoria, B.C., James Bay AA; Josiah Morra, Toronto, Toronto Saracens; Kainoa Lloyd, Mississauga, Ont., Houston SaberCats (MLR); Mitch Richardson, Stoney Creek, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Peter Nelson, Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Reid Watkins, Okotoks, Alta., Seattle Seawolves (MLR); Robbie Povey, Northampton, England, Houston SaberCats (MLR);.

Non-Travelling Reserves: Callum Botchar, David Richard, D’Shawn Bowen, Emerson Prior, Jack Shaw, Jacob Bourne, Jake Thiel, Kyle Steeves, Liam Bowman, Noah Bain, Reid Davis, Tyler Wong.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 25, 2023

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