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Kyle Baillie, Matt Heaton and Lucas Rumball lead Canada’s 30-man roster for the Rugby World Cup qualifying series against the U.S. Eagles starting Saturday in St. John’s.

The 22nd-ranked Canadians will face the 16th-ranked Americans in the Sept. 11 second leg in Glendale, Colo.

The series winner moves on to play No.17 Uruguay in a two-legged playoff in early October to see who will slot in as Americas 1 at the 2023 World Cup in France alongside No. 2 New Zealand, No. 5 France, No. 14 Italy and Africa 1 in Pool A.

The loser can still qualify but faces a more complicated route to the 20-team tournament.

Coach Kingsley Jones has chosen 23 players with Major League Rugby teams, including 12 from the Toronto Arrows. Only fly half Peter Nelson (Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne, France) and prop Matt Tierney (Castres Olympique, France) play professionally in Europe.

Two more players, prop Jake Ilnicki (James Bay AA) and back Kainoa Lloyd, previously played in MLR.

Missing are overseas pros Tyler Ardron, Evan Olmstead, Shane O’Leary and Taylor Paris. All four play in France with Ardron at Castres Olympique, Olmstead at Biarritz Olympique, O’Leary at Rouen and Paris at Oyonnax. Ardron captained Canada at the 2019 World Cup.

Heaton (Rugby ATL) and Rumball (Toronto Arrows) served as co-captains in July when the Canadians lost 68-12 to No. 9 Wales and 70-14 to No. 3 England. Baillie, who captains NOLA Gold, did not see action on the tour but is considered one of the Canadian team leaders.

Heaton is Rugby ATL’s skipper while Rumball and Ben LeSage are the Arrows co-captains.

It’s a young squad with 12 players born in 1997 or later.

The roster includes four uncapped players: Mason Flesch, Jason Higgins and Spencer Jones of the Toronto Arrows and Brock Webster from the Canada sevens program.

Ross Braude, Cooper Coats, Lockie Kratz, Quinn Ngawati, Tyler Rowland, Michael Smith and Foster DeWitt won their first caps on the July tour.

With the pandemic playing havoc with international play, the July matches were Canada’s lone matches since Oct. 8, 2019, when the Canadians lost 66-8 to South Africa in their final match at the World Cup in Japan.

The Canadian men have never missed a World Cup, managing to book their ticket in the first stage of qualifying until last time out. Canada made it to the 2019 tournament the hard way, winning a four-team repechage after losing playoff series to the U.S. (80-44 on aggregate) and Uruguay (70-50 on aggregate).

World Cup qualifying in the region has changed this time, with several additional playoff steps.

Uruguay advanced to face the North American victor by winning a three-team South American tournament over runner-up Chile and Brazil.

The Canada-U.S. loser will face No. 28 Chile in an October home-and-away playoff with the winner facing the loser of the North America-Uruguay series to determine who advances to the World Cup as Americas 2 in Pool D with No. 3 England, No. 7 Argentina, No. 10 Japan and No. 13 Samoa.

The loser of that playoff has one more chance to join them via repechage.

U.S. coach Gary Gold has named a 31-man roster for the Canada series including 23 MLR players and six European-based players. Fly half A.J. MacGinty, who plays his club rugby for England’s Sale Sharks, is the Eagles captain.

The Americans are coming off July losses to England (43-29) and Ireland (71-10).

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