Captain Aaron Carpenter will move within one game of Al Charron’s Canadian record of 76 caps when he leads Canada out for a high-profile rugby test against fifth-ranked Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
The Canadian men, ranked 18th in the world, will have to contend with an Aviva Stadium crowd of more than 50,000 looking to celebrate an Irish team coming off a historic 40-29 win over the top-ranked All Blacks last Saturday in Chicago.
“It’s a big occasion,” Canadian coach Mark Anscombe said. “We don’t get Tier 1 games very often. So we’re very conscious of the importance of performing well on Saturday.”
Canada is 0-6-1 all-time against Ireland, including a 50-7 defeat at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Canadians are a 33-1 underdog this weekend, according to British bookmaker Ladbrokes.
The Irish, meanwhile, are on a high after their first win over New Zealand in 111 years of trying. The All Blacks conceded 40 points for only the fifth time in history while seeing their record win streak end at 18 tests.
The fans Saturday will be seeing a new Irish team. Coach Joe Schmidt has named a totally new starting 15 to face Canada, with an eye to resting players for the Nov. 19 return match against the All Blacks and a Nov. 26 date with third-ranked Australia.
There are three uncapped players in the Irish starting lineup, with another five waiting on the bench.
Flanker Peter O’Mahony, who has 35 caps, will lead the home side. The Irish backline features Keith Earls, who has 52 caps, while the pack includes back-rower Sean O’Brien (42 caps).
“You look at the calibre of some of the players that they have in this team that’s playing against us and they’re quality players,” Anscombe said. “They’ll also take it as an opportunity to prove to Joe what they’re capable of doing and want to press on to play the All Blacks the following week.”
Saturday’s game is the first on Canada’s three-match European tour. Anscombe’s team will face No. 16 Romania on Nov. 19 in Bucharest and No. 14 Samoa on Nov. 25 in Grenoble, France.
Carpenter, a 33-year-old forward from Brantford, Ont., will earn cap No. 75 in Dublin.
“He really impresses me, Aaron, as an individual,” Anscombe said. “He goes about his work in a very professional manner. He’s strong, he’s tough and he’s durable … And he holds a lot of respect from the squad so he was an easy selection for the captaincy.”
Charron, a hard-nosed forward, won his 76 caps from 1990 to 2003. Carpenter, who will start at No. 8 but can also play hooker, made his international debut in 2005 against the United States.
Anscombe is starting an experienced and talented back line featuring DTH van der Merwe, Taylor Paris, Ciaran Hearn, Conor Trainor, Connor Braid, Matt Evans and Gordon McRorie.
Djustice Sears-Duru, Ray Barkwill and Jake Ilnicki form a tough front row, backed by locks Brett Beukeboom and Evan Olmstead.
Carpenter is joined in the back row by 25-year-old Kyle Baillie and 21-year-old Lucas Rumball.Report Typo/Error