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Canada draws on Major League Rugby talent for its match against Scotland

Saturday’s game will be Canada’s first on home soil since a 57-34 win over No. 19 Spain in Ottawa in July 2022.

The Canadian men have since posted a 2-3-0 record with wins over the 27th-ranked Netherlands and No. 29 Brazil.

“The players are excited to be back together on home soil and face the challenge of a strong Scottish team. They are committed to each other and the team as a whole, which is reflected in their focus and hard work in training,” Canada coach Kingsley Jones said in a statement.

“In addition to the experienced players added to the squad, there are several who will have the opportunity to represent Canada at this level for the first time,” he added. “These players have delivered strong, consistent performances this season, both in competition and in training.”

Australian-born winger Nic Benn, a former Toronto Arrow and current Dallas Jackal who spent part of his childhood in BC and qualified for Canada thanks to his Canadian-born mother, makes his first international appearance for Canada.

Five others – twins Takoda and Talon McMullin of the Vancouver Highlanders, Dallas Jackals scrum-half Brock Gallagher, and Pacific Pride Development Academy players James Stockwood and Jesse Mackail – could make their first international appearance as substitutes. One of them could become the 500th male player to represent Canada.

The 21st-ranked Canadian men will face No. 20 Romania on July 12 at TD Place in Ottawa before traveling to the United States and Japan in August to open Pacific Nations Cup play.

After Canada, Scotland will face the touring USA (number 17), Chile (number 23) and Uruguay (number 18).

Scotland finished fourth in this year’s Six Nations tournament with a record of 2-3-0, with wins over Wales (27-26) and England (30-21), but Scottish rugby was boosted by the Glasgow Warriors’ 16-13 victory over the Bulls of South Africa in the United Rugby Championship final last month.

Gregor Townsend’s tour squad includes 11 players without international experience. The players staying home to rest include star link-up Finn Russell, as well as Ben White, Ali Price, Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Richie Gray, Zander Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Hamish Watson, Grant Gilchrist and Sam Skinner.

The tour squad includes seven regular players, including British and Irish Lions winger Duhan van der Merwe, and six of the substitutes from Scotland’s Six Nations final against Ireland in March.

Canada and Scotland compete for the Douglas JL Horn Memorial Cup, which was first played in 2008. The cup was sponsored by the late Alan Horn, who named the trophy after his father and former Scottish rugby player Douglas Horn.

The two teams have been fighting for the cup since 2008.

Canada and Scotland last met in Edmonton in June 2018, with Scotland winning 48-10. Rumball, Ben LeSage, Djustice Sears-Duru, Cole Keith and Conor Keys, members of Saturday’s team, all took part in that game.

Canada squad

Liam Murray, Langley, BC, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Conor Young, Yamba, Australia, RFC Los Angeles (MLR); Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., New England Free Jacks (MLR); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, PEI, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Mason Flesch, Cobourg, Ont., Chicago Hounds (MLR); Lucas Rumball, Toronto, Chicago Hounds (MLR); Siaki Vikilani, Vancouver, Clifton Rugby Club (England); Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, Chicago Hounds (MLR); Peter Nelson, Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Dungannon RFC (Northern Ireland); Nic Benn, Caves Beach, Australia, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, New England Free Jacks (MLR); Mitch Richardson, Stoney Creek, Ont., Dallas Jackals (MLR); Andrew Coe, Markham, Ontario, RFC Los Angeles (MLR); Cooper Coats, Halifax, Halifax Tars.

Substitute

Jesse Mackail. Palmerston North, New Zealand, Pacific Pride; Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville, Ont., San Diego Legion (MLR); Cole Keith, Apohaqui, NB New England Free Jacks (MLR); James Stockwood, Bowmanville, Ont., Pacific Pride; Siôn Parry, Cardiff, Wales, Ebbw Vale RFC (Wales); Brock Gallagher, Edmonton, Dallas Jackals (MLR); Talon McMullin, White Rock, BC, Vancouver Highlanders; Takoda McMullin, White Rock, BC, Vancouver Highlanders.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2024.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press