Canada name final World Cup squad
Rugby Canada
August 15, 2007

Canada's coach Ric Suggitt announced Canada's 2007 Rugby World Cup squad in the nation's capital on Tuesday, paring his touring squad by two players.

The final 30-man squad will leave for France on September 1st, at the conclusion of the current cross-Canada Road to the World Cup tour that will see Canada play games from coast-to-coast.

Suggitt has been forced to omit flanker Stan McKeen and fly-half Nathan Hirayama from the squad.

"All decisions revolved around selection are difficult, but this one was particularly tough because of the hard work and effort these young men have put in," said Canada head coach Ric Suggitt.

A chronic injury will deprive Canada of one of its finest back row players of recent years: twenty-five year-old, twenty-one cap holder Stan McKeen.

McKeen did not play in Canada's game against British Columbia last Saturday in hopes that a recurring lower body ailment would correct itself. Despite ongoing treatment, and with no immediate improvement being shown in recent days, McKeen and Suggitt have had to make the agonizing decision.

The Cornish Pirate professional will not be fully fit throughout the entire Rugby World Cup campaign. McKeen, in consultation with Suggitt, made the heartbreaking decision to exclude himself from the squad.

McKeen, a graduate of St. George's in Vancouver, toured Chile and Argentina with his school and played his first representative rugby for Vancouver and the British Columbia Under-18 teams before being selected to the Canada Under-19 team to play at the U19 World Championships in Chile in 2001. There McKeen won the prestigious Stuart Pegg MVP award for his stellar play.

He returned to attend the University of Victoria playing for the Vikings for two years before going to the U23 PacificSport Rugby Academy in Victoria. McKeen won his first cap as a number eight against the USA at the Super Powers Cup in Japan in 2004 at the beginning of Suggitt's coaching tenure, and has played in all back row positions since then.

McKeen played for Canada against Ireland 'A', the USA and New Zealand earlier this year.

"Stan felt he wouldn't be healthy enough to give one hundred percent at the World Cup, so together we have decided that Stan will take time off to get himself fully fit so that he can come back fully recovered to represent Canada again in the near future," says Suggitt.

"We have other good back row players and it just means that they will have to step it up a notch to win a place in the side."

Nineteen year-old Nathan Hirayama burst onto the Canada national rugby scene in December, 2006 when he earned a place on the national sevens squad to the Dubai and George tournaments at only 18 years of age.

He then went on to play at the Wellington and San Diego tournaments in February, and in March played fly-half for Canada's under-19 team at the World Championships in Belfast.

In May, just after Hirayama had turned nineteen, he came off the bench in the Churchill Cup against the New Zealand Maori in Northampton to win his first cap as the youngest player ever to play for Canada.

In June, Hirayama went to New Zealand with Canada but didn't see action in games against the All Blacks and the New Zealand Under-21.

"Nathan is an extremely thoughtful and intelligent young man who will become a very fine rugby player in the future," says Suggitt. "It was a tough decision, but he's had a very good year and has a bright future ahead of him and he has decided to stay with us on this tour.

"If anyone gets a bump or a bang, he might still end up at the World Cup but at this time he is just the unfortunate man out."

Canada's World Cup squad contains a blend of sage veterans and promising youngsters who range in age from 37 year-old prop Rod Snow to 20 year-old centre Nick Trenkel, the only uncapped member of the squad.

Snow, and 34 year-old lock Mike James will be attending their fourth World Cups, with Snow having played in every one of Canada's ten games in its last three campaigns. James, because of injuries, has played in seven.

Canada's 2007 Rugby World Cup captain Morgan Williams will be going to his third tournament, having burst onto the scene in Canada's first game of the 1999 World Cup against France, in Beziers, scoring two tries.

Tight-head prop Jon Thiel will also be going to his third campaign having played in all of Canada's games in 1999 and in two at the Australian World Cup in 2003.

Six others will be going to their second RWC: prop Kevin Tkachuk, lock Jamie Cudmore, flanker Colin Yukes, fly-half Ryan Smith, and scrum-half Ed Fairhurst.

Nineteen of the squad will be attending their first World Cup.

The squad contains seventeen forwards and thirteen backs with fourteen of them having played professionally in Europe last season.

Six can play prop: Snow, Thiel, Tkachuk, Scott Franklin, Dan Pletch and Mike Pletch, although Mike Pletch can also play hooker.

Pat Riordan and Aaron Carpenter play hooker while Carpenter, a former number eight can also play in the back row.

James, Cudmore, Mike Burak, Luke Tait as well as Colin Yukes can all play lock, while Yukes and Cudmore can also play flanker, complementing a back row contingent containing Mike Webb, Adam Kleeberger, Sean-Michael Stephen, and David Biddle.

Three men play scrum-half: Morgan Williams, Ed Fairhurst and Matt Weingart, although Fairhurst can play nearly any position in the backline.

Ryan Smith, Ander Monro and Derek Daypuck can all play fly-half as can Fairhurst.

David Spicer, Craig Culpan and Nick Trenkel make up the centres with Daypuck, where he has played much of his rugby for Canada.

The wings consist of James Pritchard, Justin Mensah-Coker as well as fullbacks DTH van der Merwe and Mike Pyke, who can both play on the wing.

"As a coaching staff we're very happy with this World Cup squad. It is one that can over-perform, which is what you have to be able to do at world championships," says Suggitt.

"Our preparatory Cross-Canada tour has gone very well so far and the Canadian rugby community is getting behind this squad. Three-hundred and fifty people attended a banquet in Vancouver last week and the Dog River Howlers Players' fund has raised a great deal of money for the players.

"The Ottawa people have worked hard since we have been here and we look forward to another big dinner on Thursday evening. No doubt St. John's will turn out in support as well.

"Everyone in this squad is working very hard and is putting their bodies and brains together to become better. I think they will be a joy for Canadians to watch when we get to the World Cup," continues Suggitt.

"These guys are putting everything they have into representing their country and they aren't going to lie down for anyone."

Canada is preparing to play Portugal in a fully sanctioned IRB test match at Twin Elm Rugby Park in Nepean on Saturday, August 18th, at 2:00pm ET.

They will play the Newfoundland Rock team in St. John's on Saturday August 25th.

Canada will play in Pool B at the Rugby World Cup, against Wales in Nantes on September 9th; Fiji in Cardiff on September 16th, and Japan and Australia in Bordeaux on September 25th and 29th respectively.

Fowards: Scott Franklin, Dan Pletch, Mike Pletch, Jon Thiel, Kevin Tkachuk, Aaron Carpenter, Pat Riordan, Mike Burak, Jamie Cudmore, Mike James, Luke Tait, Colin Yukes, David Biddle, Adam Kleeberger, Rod Snow, Sean-Michael Stephen, Mike Webb.

Backs: Ed Fairhurst, Matt Weingart, Morgan Williams (capt), Ander Monro, Ryan Smith, Craig Culpan, Derek Daypuck, David Spicer, Nick Trenkel, Justin Mensah-Coker, James Pritchard, Mike Pyke, DTH van der Merwe.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.

  • Football

  • Cricket

  • Rugby

    • Days
    • Hrs
    • Mins
    • Secs

    F1 - Azerbaijan GP

  • OtherLive >>

    Snooker - China Open
    Tennis - Miami Open