Canada rugby coach Kingsley Jones is looking to his youth Wednesday when Canada ‘A’ takes on Brazil ‘A’ at the Americas Rugby Trophy.
Jones has kept just six starters from the team that Canada lost 36-25 to Chile XV on Friday in a game that saw nine players sent to the sin-bin.
The wholesale changes are due in part to the lack of preparation time ahead of the Chile game and the fact that most of the Canadian players are out of season. The team had just two training sessions and a captain’s run ahead of the Chile contest.
But the revamped roster is also due to the fact that the new competition is a three-country developmental tournament that does not carry test status.
“It’s a developmental tour and I need to give the guys game time to find out more about them,” Jones said Tuesday from Brazil. “I think they’ve earned the right as well.”
Wednesday’s match is at Municipal Stadium Francisco Ribeiro Nogueira in Mogi das Cruzes, about 65 kilometres east of Sao Paulo.
Chile has already won the competition, having also defeated Brazil 57-36.
At the test level, Chile is ranked 21st while Canada is No. 23 and Brazil No. 27.
Matthew Klimchuk and twin brothers Takoda and Talon McMullin, who represented Canada at the under-20 level this summer, make the matchday squad. Klimchuk is part of a new-look back row that also features former UBC captain Owain Ruttan, the Toronto Arrows’ recently signed first-round MLR draft pick, and fellow Arrow Siaki Vikilani.
The 22-year-old Vikilani stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 270 pounds.
Talon McMullin is an inside centre while Takoda plays outside centre.
“They’re guys that make things happen,” said Jones.
University of Victoria back Gabe Casey, the Arrows’ third-round pick in the August MLR draft, starts at inside centre.
Veteran Kyle Baillie moves to lock from the back row, taking over the captaincy from co-captains Lucas Rumball and Ben LeSage. Baillie missed both of Canada’s July test matches due to injury.
Kyle Steeves, like Klimchuk a member of Rugby Canada’s Pacific Pride academy, starts at prop.
Cooper Coats and Robbie Povey switch positions in the backs with Coats moving to fullback and Povey to fly half.
Alex Russell and D’Shawn Bowen slot in at centre and wing, respectively, joining fellow Canada sevens players Coats and Josiah Morra, who remains at wing.
Izzak Kelly, a 6-foot-6, 285-pound lock from the UBC Thunderbirds, is among the replacements.
The Canadian men failed to make the 2023 Rugby World Cup after losing two-legged qualifying series to the 19th-ranked U.S. (59-50 on aggregate) and Chile (54-46). They are now looking ahead to 2027 World Cup.
Liam Murray, Langley, B.C., Dallas Jackals; Lindsey Stevens, Sydney, Australia, Los Angeles Giltinis (MLR); Kyle Steeves, Winnipeg, Pacific Pride; Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Kyle Baillie (capt.), Summerside, PEI, Halifax Tars; Matthew Klimchuk, Regina, Regina Rogues/UVic; Owain Ruttan, Cobourg, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Siaki Vikilani, Burnaby, B.C., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, San Diego Legion (MLR); Robert Povey, Oxford, England, Houston Sabercats (MLR); Josiah Morra, Toronto, Canada sevens; Gabriel Casey, Ottawa, UVic; Alex Russell, Chichester, England, Canada sevens; D’Shawn Bowen, Toronto, Canada sevens; Cooper Coats, Halifax, Canada sevens.
Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Emerson Prior, Brockville, Ont., Utah Warriors (MLR); Conor Young, Yamba, Australia, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Izzak Kelly, White Rock, B.C., Bayside Sharks RFC/UBC; Corey Thomas, Broome, Australia, Los Angeles Giltinis (MLR); Ross Braude, Pretoria, South Africa, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Talon McMullin, White Rock, B.C., UBC; Takoda McMullin, White Rock, B.C., UBC.