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Canadians open rugby tour against all-stars from England's second tier

10/31/2014 10:39 EDT | Updated 12/31/2014 05:59 EST
National pride and local bragging rights will both be on the line Sunday when Canada takes on the RFU Championship Select Team, an all-star squad from English rugby's second tier.

Five of the players in Canada's matchday 22 play in the Greene King IPA Championship when they are not wearing the Maple Leaf.

Fullback James Pritchard is a longtime member of the Bedford Blues. Prop Andrew Tiedemann and lock Brett Buekeboom play for Plymouth Albion and locks Tyler Hotson and Jon Phelan wear the colours of the Doncaster Knights.

"We know they are a quality side and they're looking to put up a big performance to show they belong in the best in the league, so we need to have a strong showing on Sunday," said Pritchard, an 11-year veteran of the Championship who is Canada's all-time leading scorer with 589 Test points.

"This tour is about solidifying our positions and showing that we belong in the side. For me, I want to put up my hand for my fourth World Cup next year and Sunday is a big chance for me."

The game at Sixways in Worcester, England, is the first of four on Canada's November tour.

Canada, ranked 17th in the world, will meet No. 22 Namibia in Colwyn Bay, Wales, on Nov. 7, No. 9 Samoa in Vannes, France, on Nov. 14, and No. 16 Romania in Bucharest on Nov. 22.

Samoa, Namibia and Romania will join Canada at next year's World Cup, with Canada and Romania both featured in Pool D, alongside No. 5 Ireland, No. 7 France, and No. 14 Italy. Saskatoon prop Hubert Buydens will lead Canada, with regular skipper Tyler Ardron (Ospreys, Wales) injured and not available for the start of the tour.

Buydens will lead out a team competing as Canada on Sunday despite the fact that the game is not considered an international Test match. The contest falls outside the International Rugby Board's Test window, so Canadian coach Kieran Crowley was not able to summon all of his overseas pros.

With only a few training sessions before the weekend match, Crowley has focused on his own players rather than the all-star opponents.

"It's about getting our stuff in, because the (Canadian) guys have come from all over the place, different teams, different systems etc. So it's about getting our stuff right," Crowley said Friday. "Obviously you know a little bit about individuals from the other side so you highlight that."

Buydens, who recently helped the Manawatu Turbos earn promotion in New Zealand, is joined in the front row by Tiedemann and hooker Ray Barkwill.

Championship players Hotson and Buekeboom start in the second row with Nanyak Dala, Kyle Gilmour and John Moonlight in the back row.

Gordon McRorie starts at scrum half with Pat Parfrey at fly half. Nick Blevins and Ciaran Hearn partner at centre with a back three of Conor Trainor and Sean Duke on the wing and Pritchard at fullback.

Canada is looking for improvements after losses to Japan, Scotland and the U.S. in June. A domestic Canada 'A' side also disappointed in finishing third at the recent Americas Rugby Championship.

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Canada

Hubert Buydens (capt.), unattached, Saskatoon; Ray Barkwill, Niagara Wasps RFC, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Andrew Tiedemann, Plymouth Albion (England), St. Albert, Alta.; Tyler Hotson, Doncaster Knights (England), Vancouver; Brett Buekeboom, Plymouth Albion (England), Lindsay, Ont.; Kyle Gilmour, St. Albert RFC, St. Albert, Alta.; Nanyak Dala, Castaway Wanderers, Regina; John Moonlight, James Bay AA, Pickering, Ont.; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Patrick Parfrey, Swilers RFC, St. Johns, N.L.; Conor Trainor, UBCOB Ravens, Vancouver; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Ciaran Hearn, Castaway Wanderers, Conception Bay South, N.L.; Sean Duke, UVIC Vikes, Vancouver; James Pritchard, Bedford Blues (England), Parkes, Australia.

Replacements

Ryan Hamilton, Capilano RFC, Vancouver; Doug Wooldridge, Lindsay RFC, Lindsay, Ont.; Jake Ilnicki, NSW Country Eagles, Williams Lake, B.C.; Jordan Wilson-Ross, James Bay AA, Alliston, Ont.; Seb Pearson, London St. George's, London, Ont.; Sean White, James Bay AA, Victoria; Connor Braid, Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), Victoria; Jon Phelan, Doncaster Knights, Montreal.

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