Written by: Doug Crosse 

The summer of 2018 is a high-pressure period for first-year coach Kingsley Jones of Canada. The three test series in Edmonton, Ottawa, and Halifax are his biggest opportunity to dial in his squad ahead of the last gasp of World Cup 2019 qualifiers in the repechage which takes place in November.

In a normal year, a coach looks to the summer series as a chance to get his team ticking over, staying with combinations to see how they rate and to get some wins for the fan base.

This year, the matches against Scotland, Russia, and the USA will be the laboratory that Professor Jones uses to get a lot of his systems right – and more importantly – to build up his twenty-minute men, i.e. the replacements off the bench.

So while he would love to put out a side of his very best starters and go for a win each week, he will have to test those replacements and put them under some hard-core pressure, possibly starting some against Russia and the USA, or giving them a forty minute runout. 

So here is what is ahead for the Canada Summer Test Series:

Canada vs Scotland - June 9, 2018  - Commonwealth Stadium - Edmonton 7 PM Local

All-Time Record: 2 wins 5 losses

June 14, 2014: Canada 17-19 Scotland - Toronto
November 21, 2008: Canada 0-41 Scotland - Pittodrie
June 7, 2008: Canada 10-24 Scotland 'A' - Ottawa
June 7, 2006: Canada 10-15 Scotland 'A' - Ottawa
June 15, 2002: Canada 26-23 Scotland - Vancouver
January 21, 1995: Canada 6-22 Scotland -  Edinburgh, Scotland
May 25, 1991: Canada 24-19 Scotland XV -  Saint John, New Brunswick

 

What to Expect 

Not all of Scotland’s top tourists have made the trip to Canada, noticeably the twin towers – the Gray brothers are not in the lineup as Richie Gray pulled out of the tour last week with an injury. Also coming in as injury cover for tour captain Stuart McInally, who pulled a calf muscle prior to departure for Canada, is uncapped Glasgow Warriors hooker Grant Stewart.  

Canada ran Scotland close in their last meeting in 2014 in Toronto. A controversial red card to Jebb Sinclair snatched a likely victory from the Canadians, but what a difference four years makes. A raft of retirements, the end of the Kieran Crowley era, and now a new style of rugby from Kingsley Jones could make this a tough afternoon for the home side. As mentioned above, Jones does not have the luxury to put his best combinations out, but he does have the benefit of putting in some question marks and seeing how they respond to pressure testing.

Canada will stay competitive in the opening forty minutes and if Gordon McRorie has his good kicking boots on it will be fun to watch, but the second half will see the visitors pull away.

Scotland Squad:

FORWARDS (18)
Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) – 8 caps
Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby) – 2 caps
Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 31 caps
Lewis Carmichael (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Allan Dell (Edinburgh Rugby) – 10 caps
David Denton (Worcester Warriors) – 39 caps
Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – 22 caps
Luke Hamilton (Leicester Tigers) – 1 cap
Murray McCallum (Edinburgh Rugby) – 1 cap
Stuart McInally CAPTAIN (Edinburgh Rugby) – 17 caps
Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – uncapped
Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) - Uncapped
Tim Swinson (Glasgow Warriors) – 36 caps
George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) – 2 caps
Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps
 
BACKS (15)
Mark Bennett (Edinburgh Rugby) - 1 Cap
Nick Grigg (Glasgow Warriors) – 4 caps
Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons) – 2 caps
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh Rugby) – 9 caps
Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) – 60 caps
George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – uncapped
Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 33 caps
Ruaridh Jackson (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors) – 8 caps
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) – 2 caps
James Lang (Harlequins) – uncapped
Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks) – 3 caps
Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 16 caps
Duncan Taylor (Saracens) – 21 caps
 

Canada vs Russia - Ottawa - June 16th, 2018 - Twin Elm Rugby Park - Ottawa - 2 PM 

All-Time Record vs Russia 4-0

2016 Canada 46 Russia 12 - Calgary, AB
2012 Canada 35 Russia 3 - Wales 
2011 Canada 34 Russia 18 - Esher, UK
2009 Canada 22 Russia 3 - Burnaby, BC

 

What to Expect: 

Of the three matches this summer, this is a must-win for Coach Kingsley Jones. As the former coach of Russia, he has both the intimate knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of his opposition, but also the weight of history as Canada has never lost to the Russians. 

This is a game Canada should win and still be able to test competencies. It will be a match where some second choice players will get a start, but should things go sideways, the starters will be brought in post-haste.  

Russia and head coach Marc McDermott will be looking to learn much about its team as well, with their sudden improvement in World Cup qualifying based on the European debacle of Spain, Belgium and Romania suffering heavily under World Rugby Sanctions. Russia is going to the big show in Japan for now (pending appeals by Spain and Belgium) and need to use the Canada/USA tour to try out their own formulas. 

Russian Squad to Canada:

Alexander Budychenko (Yenisei-STM)
Dmitry Gerasimov (Yenisei-STM)
Yevgeny Yelgin (Yenisei-STM)
Dmitry Krotov (Yenisei-STM)
Yuri Kushnarev (Yenisei-STM)
Alexey Mikhaltsov (Yenisei-STM)
Valery Morozov (Yenisei-STM)
Evgeny Pronenko (Yenisei-STM)
Stanislav Selsky (Yenisei-STM)
Anton Rudoy (Yenisei-STM)
Alexey Scherban (Yenisei-STM)
Konstantin Uzunov (Yenisei-STM)
Vasily Artemyev (Red Yar)
Andrei Garbuzov (Red Yar)
Cyril Golosnitsky (Red Yar)
Vasily Dorofeev (Red Yar)
Bogdan Fedotko (Red Yar)
Valery Tsnobilidze (Red Yar)
Mikhail Babaev (VVA-Moscow region)
German Godlyuk (VVA-Moscow region)
Anton Drozdov (VVA-Podmoskovye)
Evgeny Matveyev (VVA-Moscow region)
Sergey Sekisov (VVA-Moscow region)
Sergei Trishin (VVA-Moscow region)
Nikita Vavilin (Glory)
Evgeny Mishechkin (Glory)
Tagir Hajiyev (Kuban)
Anton Sychev (Metallurgist)
 

USA vs Canada -June 23rd, 2018 - Wanderers Ground, Halifax, NS - Kick off: 4pm 

All-Time Record - 38-19-2

What to Expect:

This will be the hardest of the three matches this summer based on management of expectations. Fans suffering from the Mandela effect, the new theory that groups of people will misremember key events or outcomes, do not understand the USA is currently in much better shape in terms of the 15-a-side game. Domestic governance problems aside, the USA has a great group of players at their disposal; and, having qualified already by beating Canada in a two-game total points series, the Eagles will be confident under coach Gary Gold. The biggest question the US might have is, where the hell is Halifax? This is the furthest east the US have travelled since the World Cup qualifier held in Newfoundland in 2006.

This should be a win for the USA, but certainly, a public relations win for Canada playing in the Maritimes after a 12-year absence. Like any Canada v USA match, it will be filled with passion, but the physicality of the Polynesian forwards in the US side will build intense pressure over eighty minutes.

USA Squad to Canada:

David Ainuu Toulouse Rugby (FRA) Prop
Dylan Audsley San Diego Legion Center
Nate Augspurger San Diego Legion Scrumhalf / Wing
Chris Baumann Leicester Tigers (ENG) Prop
Marcel Brache Perth/Western Force (AUS) Center
Bryce Campbell Glendale Raptors Center
Ben Cima San Diego Legion Flyhalf
Nick Civetta Newcastle Falcons (ENG) Lock
Shaun Davies Glendale Raptors Scrumhalf
Cam Dolan San Diego Legion No. 8
Dylan Fawsitt Glendale Raptors Hooker
Eric Fry Vannes Rugby (FRA) Prop
Hanco Germishuys Austin Elite Flanker
Ruben de Haas, Free State Cheetahs (RSA), Scrumhalf
James Hilterbrand, Manly Marlins (AUS), Hooker
Will Hooley, Bedford Blues (ENG), Flyhalf
Olive Kilifi, Seattle Seawolves, Prop
Titi Lamositele, Saracens (ENG), Prop
Ben Landry, Glendale Raptors, Lock
Paul Lasike, Utah Warriors, Center
AJ MacGinty, Sale Sharks (ENG), Flyhalf
Will Magie, Glendale Raptors, Flyhalf
Samu Manoa, Toulon (FRA), Lock
Siaosi Mahoni, San Diego Legion, Lock
Ryan Matyas, San Diego Legion, Wing
Paul Mullen, Houston SaberCats, Prop
Greg Peterson, Glasgow Warriors, Lock
John Quill, Glendale Raptors, Flanker
Blaine Scully, Cardiff Blues (WAL), Fullback
Joe Taufete'e, Worcester Warriors (ENG), Hooker
Vili Toluta'u, Seattle Seawolves, Flanker/Hooker
 

What do you think? How will Canada do over these three test matches? We would love to hear from you – send us your thoughts to doug.crosse@gmail.com and we will post the best comments!

 

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