Cannucks name strong squad to face Eagles
by Doug Crosse
July 11, 2006

Canada is not hedging its bets when it comes to the one-off, winner take all Rugby World Cup qualifier in St John's, Newfoundland on August 12th. Sending a clear message to the USA that the road to France in 2007 will begin for Canada in the eastern most province, coach Ric Suggitt revealed a team full of veterans, along with some fresh new faces that have changed the complexion of the Canadian squad in recent months.

Back into the fold are professionals Jamie Cudmore (Claremont Ferrand), who will be used primarily as a flanker, Stade Francais' longest serving player, Mike James, at second row, and Glasgow Warriors prop Kevin Tkachuk. All three had been unavailable or resting for Canada's previous test action in June during the Churchill Cup and a World Cup qualifying victory over Barbados. Also named to the veteran mix, Rod Snow, Canada's current cap leader, who has enjoyed a renaissance since returning home to Newfoundland after a decade of pro rugby in Wales.

"Having Mike James, Jamie Cudmore and Kevin Tkachuk, who played for the Barbarians in June, will add enormously to our forward pack," says Canada's coach Ric Suggitt. "Their presence will also provide us with more depth on our bench and a load more big game experience. Rod has been a huge addition since his comeback. I think having Rod play in front of his home town is going to be a special moment for all his family and friends in St John's."

Morgan Williams (released from Stade Francais now at French side Albi), gets his 44th start for Canada and will captain the side, a role he has relished since his first such assignment against Argentina last year, a key win for the Canucks. Scotland's Ander Munro has cemented a spot in the side as well, following three solid performances for Canada since making the move to the Canadian squad in the spring. South African born DTH van der Merwe, who got his Canadian citizenship last month, also figures in the 28-man squad, having impressed in a second half appearance against Barbados, scoring a pair of tries in Canada's 69-3 win.

A number of players also return from long term sick bay stints, including flanker Mike Webb, out with a shoulder injury since playing France in November 2005, wing Brodie Henderson (ankle injury at NA4's) and Josh Jackson, back from a knee injury sustained at the Churchill Cup. Canada beat the US 33-19 in Edmonton last month, but the Eagles put a licking on the Bajans with a 13 try, 91-0 win in Stanford a week later, making most pundits consider that the once floundering US program may have righted itself somewhat with the presence of interim coach Peter Thorburn and Alan Solomons running the team from an administrative perspective.

Neither team will have a warm-up game before next month's important match on the 'Rock', so the upcoming North American Four second leg in Ohio will be a chance to try some combinations for both sides.

"Both teams will have the various game films and the NA4 to work from," says Suggitt. "Nothing really special can be done between now and the game except to prepare as well as we can for the match."

The upcoming one-off match in Newfoundland is of paramount importance for both Canada and the USA, with the winner earning an automatic berth as America #2 in Pool B with Australia, Wales, Fiji and Asia #1. The loser, however, will be forced to continue its hunt for a World Cup place via a home-and-away series against whichever South American nation ends second to Argentina, likely Uruguay or Chile. The winner becomes Americas #3, while the loser enters a repechage competition against the winner of a contest between the winner of Africa #2 and Europe #4 versus the winners of Asia #2 and Oceania #3. Both the Americas #3 and repechage qualifying routes are fraught with uncertainty, and so, for both teams, winning in Newfoundland is all-important.

CANADA SQUAD TO PLAY THE USA (RWC QUALIFIER)

#
NAME
CURRENT CLUB
2005 RCSL CLUB

1
Mike Burak
Northern Suburbs (Australia)

2
Aaron Carpenter
Brantford Harlequins
Niagara Thunder

3
Garth Cooke
Castaway-Wanderers

4
Jamie Cudmore
Claremont-Ferrand (France)

5
Derek Daypuck
Castaway-Wanderers

6
Ed Fairhurst
University of Victoria
Crimson Tide

7
Brodie Henderson
Abbotsford

8
Mike James
Stade Francais(France)

9
Josh Jackson
Stade Bordelaise (France)

10
Mark Lawson
Velox-Valhallians
Crimson Tide

11
Stan McKeen
Cornish Pirates (England)

12
Justin Mensah-Coker
Meraloma
Vancouver Wave

13
Ander Monro
Edinburgh Gunners (Scotland)

14
Chris Pack
Bayside

15
Dan Pletch
Oakville Crusaders
Niagara Thunder

16
James Prichard
Northampton (England)

17
Mike Pyke
Edinburgh Gunners (Scotland)

18
Pat Riordan
Burnaby Lake
Vancouver Wave

19
Ryan Smith
Montauban(France)

20
Rod Snow
Dogs
The Rock

21
Sean-Michael Stephen
Oakville Crusaders
Niagara Thunder

22
David Spicer
University of Victoria
Crimson Tide

23
Luke Tait
Parma (Italy)

24
Kevin Tkachuk
Glasgow Gunners (Scotland)

25
DTH Van Der Merwe
James Bay AA
Prairie Fire

26
Mike Webb
Swilers
The Rock

27
Morgan Williams
Stade Francais (France)

28
Colin Yukes
Agen (France)

NON-TRAVELING RESERVES:

Aaron Abrams
Castaway-Wanderers

Oliver Atkinson
Velox-Valhallians

Mike Barbieri
Overmarch Parma (Italy)

David Biddle
Meraloma

Casey Dunning
Castaway-Wanderers

Andrew Fagan
Swilers

Pat Fleck
Meraloma

Scott Hunter
Abbotsford

Adam Kleeberger
University of Victoria
Crimson Tide

Tom Larisch
Capilano

David Moonlight
University of Victoria

Ryan McWhinney
Abbotsford

Mike Pletch
Oakville Crusaders
Niagara Thunder

Sterling Richmond
Vancouver Rowing Club

Dan Tou
Abbotsford

Matt Weingart
Castaway Wanderers

Kris Witkowski
Castaway-Wanderers

Nik Witkowski
Coventry (England)

Dean Van Camp
Velox-Valhallians

CRN

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