After an intense week-long training camp at Shawnigan Lake School on
Vancouver Island, National rugby Coach Pat Parfrey announced the
thirty-player squad to compete at the critical three-game World Cup
Qualifications in Argentina in mid-August. After practicing and playing
in 30 degree plus temperatures the squad will have a week to rest before
flying to the Southern Hemisphere on August 11 to make final
preparations for tests against Uruguay on August 15, the United States
on August 19, and Argentina on August 22. Three of the four nations will
qualify for World Cup in October 1999 but all the competitors are
seeking to finish first to secure the best draw in rugby's premier
World Cup veteran Gareth Rees, Canada's record points scorer, captains
the side bolstered by other stalwarts like prop Vancouver's Eddie Evans
and *** Victoria's Mark Cardinal who along with Rees have been to
every World Cup. Ottawa's Al Charron, Toronto's David Lougheed, and
Vancouver's John Graf and Scott Stewart, all participants in two
previous World Cups, also add experience to the squad.
"We've had an excellent week at Shawnigan," said Parfery " All forty
players who attended have worked extremely hard and significant progress
has been achieved. We've moved up a notch and we're more ready to meet
the challenge in Argentina. The camp has been a huge success."
The week ended with an Intra-Squad game on Saturday. The Black side beat
the Reds 41-33 in an evenly matched fast paced game. "Many of the young
players invited to the camp played extremely well and it is unfortunate
that we can't take everyone to Argentina. However, even after the
qualifiers there's still a year until the actual World Cup, so some of
the players who aren't going to the qualifiers may yet play in the World
Cup. We've certainly broadened our player base by working these new
players into the system."
Canada's toughest competition for the first place World Cup America's
zone comes from the hosts Argentina which holds a 3 to 2 margin of
victory over Canada in previous tests. In the last encounter in 1996
Argentina beat Canada 41-21 in Markham, Ontario. However, in the 1991
World Cup Qualifications Canada beat Argentina both at home and away to
win a berth, and hope springs eternal that Canada can repeat in three
week's time. Canada has beaten Uruguay relatively easily twice before,
but can't be complacent as Uruguay will be playing close to home and
will have many supporters at that game.
The United States too could pose problems. Despite the fact that Canada
has beaten the Eagles in the its last five encounters, the US performed
creditably losing only 18-9 to fast-improving Fiji in Suva a week ago.
"We must not take our first two games lightly," said captain Rees. " We
have to focus on each game with skill and intensity."
THE CANADA SQUAD TO ARGENTINA.
Rod Snow Newfoundland John Graf
Eddie Evans B.C. Julian Loveday
Richard Bice B.C. Gareth Rees B.C.
John Thiel B.C. Bob Ross
Harry Toews B.C. Scott Bryan Ontario
Mark Cardinal B.C. Kyle Nichols Ontario
Pat Dunkley B.C. Jason Hall
Mike James B.C. Colin Robertson Quebec
John Tait Ontario Winston Stanley B.C.
Tony Healy B.C. Courtney Smith Ontario
Chris Whittaker B.C. Scott Stewart B.C.
Al Charron Ontario Joe Pagano
John Hutchinson Ontario David Lougheed Ontario
Danny Baugh Alberta
Rob Robson B.C.
Mike Schmid B.C.
Ian Gordon B.C.