OTTAWA: Chiefs forward Tyler Ardron was named captain of Canada’s 31-strong squad for the Rugby World Cup on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old back rower, who has played 33 Tests, leads the Canadians at the World Cup for the second time following his injury-hit appearance at the 2015 tournament in England.
Ardron skippers a squad made up of veterans and emerging talent, most of whom play for teams in North America’s Major League Rugby professional competition.
Other veterans in the squad include Glasgow Warriors winger DTH Van der Merwe, who will be returning for his fourth World Cup.
“It’s been a really tough selection but that’s what we wanted,” Canada coach Kingsley Jones said in a statement.
Jones said the squad had been selected with one eye on the 2023 World Cup.
“It’s always a challenge for coaches to find the right mix to be competitive as possible while also looking towards the future and ensuring we are in good position for 2023, and we feel we’ve achieved that,” he said.
Canada’s rugby fortunes have dipped sharply in recent years, with the team falling to 21st in the world rankings, and only qualifying for the World Cup in Japan via a repechage tournament last November.
The Canadians are in a daunting Pool B in Japan, opening against Italy on September 26 before games against reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa and Namibia.
Canada squad for the Rugby World Cup in Japan:
Forwards: Tyler Ardron (Chiefs-capt), Kyle Baillie (New Orleans Gold), Justin Blanchet (unattached), Hubert Buydens (unattached), Luke Campbell (Toronto Arrows), Matt Heaton (Rugby ATL), Eric Howard (New Orleans Gold), Jake Ilnicki (Seattle Seawolves), Cole Keith (Toronto Arrows), Conor Keys (unattached), Evan Olmstead (unattached), Benoit Piffero (Blagnac), Andrew Quattrin (Toronto Arrows), Lucas Rumball (Toronto Arrows), Djustice Sears-Duru (Seattle Seawolves), Mike Sheppard (Toronto Arrows), Matt Tierney (Castres)
Backs: Nick Blevins (Calgary Hornets), Andrew Coe (Markham Irish), Jeff Hassler (Seattle Seawolves), Ciaran Hearn (unattached), DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors), Ben LeSage (Calgary Canucks), Jamie Mackenzie (Toronto Arrows), Phil Mack (Seattle Seawolves), Gordon McRorie (Calgary Hornets), Peter Nelson (unattached), Shane O’Leary (Nottingham), Pat Parfrey (Toronto Arrows), Taylor Paris (Castres), Conor Trainor (Nevers)