July 25th, 2024

Canada draws on Major League Rugby talent for game against touring Scotland

By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on July 3, 2024.

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. Flanker Rumball will lead a Canada team drawn almost entirely from Major League Rugby sides on Saturday against sixth-ranked Scotland.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Flanker Lucas Rumball will lead a Canada team drawing almost exclusively on Major League Rugby talent on Saturday in Ottawa against sixth-ranked Scotland.

Canada’s matchday 23 features 15 MLR players including 12 starters. The starting 15 contains four members of the MLR champion New England Free Jacks with another on the bench.

Rumball is one of three Chicago Hounds in the matchday squad. There are also four players from the Dallas Jackals, two from RFC Los Angeles and one from the San Diego Legion.

The three starters outside of the MLR are No. 8 Siaki Vikilani (who plays in England for Clifton Rugby Club), fly half Peter Nelson (Dungannon RFC, Northern Ireland) and fullback Cooper Coats (Canada sevens team)

Saturday’s game is the first for Canada on home soil since a 57-34 win over No. 19 Spain in Ottawa in July 2022.

The Canadian men have gone 2-3-0 since with wins over the 27th-ranked Netherlands and No. 29 Brazil.

“Players are excited to be reassembled on home soil and taking on the challenge of a strong Scottish side, and are committed to each other and the team as a whole, which has been reflected in their focus and hard work in training,” Canada coach Kingsley Jones said in a statement.

“Along with the seasoned, experienced players named to the roster are several who will have the opportunity to represent Canada at this level for the first time,” he added. “These players have put their hands up with their strong, consistent performances this season in both competition and training.”

Australian-born winger Nic Benn, a former Toronto Arrow and current Dallas Jackal who spent part of his childhood in B.C. and qualifies for Canada via his Canadian-born mother, earns his first cap for Canada.

Five others – Vancouver Highlander twins Takoda and Talon McMullin, Dallas Jackals scrum half Brock Gallagher and the Pacific Pride development academy’s James Stockwood and Jesse Mackail, could earn their first caps off the bench, one of whom could become the 500th men’s player to take to the pitch for Canada.

The 21st-ranked Canadian men face No. 20 Romania at TD Place in Ottawa on July 12 before travelling to the United States and Japan to open Pacific Nations Cup play in August.

After Canada, touring Scotland faces the 17th-ranked U.S., No. 23 Chile and No. 18 Uruguay.

Scotland finished fourth in this year’s Six Nations tournament at 2-3-0 with wins over No. 6 Wales (27-26) and No. 5 England (30-21). But Scottish rugby has been since buoyed by the Glasgow Warriors’ 16-13 win over South Africa’s Bulls in last month’s United Rugby Championship final.

Gregor Townsend’s tour squad includes 11 uncapped players. Players left at home to rest include star fly half Finn Russell as well as Ben White, Ali Price, Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Richie Gray, Zander Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Hamish Watson, Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner.

The tour roster features seven starters, including British and Irish Lions winger Duhan van der Merwe, as well as six of the bench players from Scotland’s Six Nations finale against Ireland in March.

Canada and Scotland are competing for the Douglas JL Horn Memorial Cup, which was first played for in 2008. The cup was sponsored by the late Alan Horn, who named the trophy after his father and former Scottish rugby player, Douglas Horn.

The two teams have contested the trophy since 2008.

Canada and Scotland last met in Edmonton in June 2018, with Scotland winning 48-10. Rumball, Ben LeSage, Djustice Sears-Duru, Cole Keith and Conor Keys, members of Saturday’s squad, all took part in that match.

Canada Roster

Liam Murray, Langley, B.C., Dallas Jackals (MLR); Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Conor Young, Yamba, Australia, RFC Los Angeles (MLR); Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, P.E.I., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Mason Flesch, Cobourg, Ont., Chicago Hounds (MLR); Lucas Rumball, Toronto, Chicago Hounds (MLR); Siaki Vikilani, Vancouver, Clifton Rugby Club (England); Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, Chicago Hounds (MLR); Peter Nelson, Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Dungannon RFC (Northern Ireland); Nic Benn, Caves Beach, Australia, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Mitch Richardson, Stoney Creek, Ont., Dallas Jackals (MLR); Andrew Coe, Markham, Ont., RFC Los Angeles (MLR); Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars.

Replacements

Jesse Mackail. Palmerston North, New Zealand, Pacific Pride; Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville, Ont., San Diego Legion (MLR); Cole Keith, Apohaqui, N.B. New England Free Jacks (MLR); James Stockwood, Bowmanville, Ont., Pacific Pride; Siôn Parry, Cardiff, Wales, Ebbw Vale RFC (Wales); Brock Gallagher, Edmonton, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Talon McMullin, White Rock, B.C., Vancouver Highlanders; Takoda McMullin, White Rock, B.C., Vancouver Highlanders.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on X platform, formerly known as Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024.

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