Coach Kingsley Jones has made two changes to his starting lineup for Canada's weekend rematch with Chile in their Rugby World Cup qualifying series.
The 21st-ranked Canadian men hold a one-point edge over No. 28 Chile after the opening leg of the aggregate points series.
Former captain Tyler Ardron comes in for Matt Heaton at blindside flanker while Patrick Parfrey slots in for Cooper Coats at fullback for Saturday's game in Valparaiso at Estadio Elias Figueroa Brander. Prop Matt Tierney and wing/centre Quinn Ngawati join the Canadian replacements, replacing Jake Ilnicki and Parfrey.
Heaton and Coats did not make the 10,400-kilometre trip to Chile. Openside flanker Lucas Rumball continues as captain.
Ardron, who captained Canada at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, flew in from France this week to bolster the Canadian team. He plays his club rugby for Castres Olympique.
Canada's starting 15 features seven members of the Toronto Arrows, with another three among the replacements.
The Canadians won the opening match by a 22-21 score Saturday in Langford, B.C. But Canada needed a penalty kick by replacement fly half Rob Povey with the clock winding down to win at Starlight Stadium.
The Canadians were coming off a 59-50 aggregate loss to the 16th-ranked U.S. Eagles that moved the Americans into a playoff with No. 17 Uruguay, with the winner qualifying for France 2023 as Americas 1 alongside No. 1 New Zealand, No. 6 France, No. 14 Italy and Africa 1 in Pool A.
The U.S. defeated Uruguay 19-16 to kick off their two-legged playoff Saturday in Glendale, Colo. The second leg is Saturday at Estadio Charrua in Montevideo.
The winner of the Canada-Chile series will face the U.S.-Uruguay loser to decide Americas 2, which will qualify in Pool D alongside No. 4 England, No. 8 Argentina, No. 10 Japan and No. 13 Samoa. The loser of the Americas 2 playoff has one last chance to qualify for France 2023 via a repechage tournament.
The Canadians have never failed to qualify for World Cup but had to do it the hard way the last time out, winning a four-team repechage after losing series to the U.S. and Uruguay.
This time around, Canada led the U.S. 34-21 after the first leg Sept. 4 in St. John's, N.L. But the Americans rallied with a 38-16 victory Sept. 11 in Glendale.
Argentina qualified automatically from the Americas by virtue of its performance at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Uruguay became the top qualifying seed in South America by winning a three-team tournament that also included Chile and Brazil.
The Chileans moved into the Americas 2 playoff on the strength of their second-place finish at that competition.
Djustice Sears-Duru, Oakville, Ont., unattached; Eric Howard, Ottawa, NOLA Gold (MLR); Tyler Rowland, Mississauga, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Corey Thomas, Perth, Australia; L.A. Giltinis (MLR); Kyle Baillie, Summerside, P.E.I., NOLA Gold (MLR); Tyler Ardron, Peterbourough, Ont., Castres Olympique (France); Lucas Rumball (capt.). Markham, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Siaki Vikilani, Burnaby, B.C., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Ross Braude, Pretoria, South Africa, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Peter Nelson — Dungannon, Northern Ireland, Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne (France); Kainoa Lloyd, Mississauga, Ont., James Bay AA; Spencer Jones, Cambridge, New Zealand, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Ben LeSage, Calgary, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Brock Webster, Uxbridge, Ont., Canada Rugby Sevens; Patrick Parfrey, St. John’s, N.L., Toronto Arrows (MLR).
Andrew Quattrin, Holland Landing, Ont., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Cole Keith, Sussex, N.B., Toronto Arrows (MLR); Matt Tierney, Oakville, Ont., Castres Olympique (France); Conor Keys, Stittsville, Ont., Rugby ATL (MLR); Michael Smith, White Rock, B.C., San Diego Legion (MLR); Rob Povey, Long Buckby, England, Houston SaberCats (MLR); Jason Higgins, Cork, Ireland, Toronto Arrows (MLR); Quinn Ngawati, Victoria, Rugby United New York (MLR).
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press