Saturday, January 12, 2013

Will the North American Barbarians feature Pro Canadian players?

Will Chauncey O´Toole feature?
With discarded South African Super Rugby franchise, the Golden Lions having confirmed a three match tour of North America in April there are questions over who exactly will be taking the field for the North Americans in two of the three matches. The third match, in Chicago will see the Chicago Lions club host the Golden Lions while the first and second match are not made up of actual teams. On April 13 the US Invitational XV will play host to the South African side in Irvine while the North American Barbarians will host the side on April 20 in Vancouver. The selection of Vancouver for the fixture is a strong indication that it will be a team made up predominantly of Canadians. There are, nevertheless, serious questions over qwho will be taking the field. The date of the tour falls outside of the IRB´s mandatory release windows of June, November and dates set aside for Rugby World Cup Qualification. In other words the chances of professional Canadian and USA players appearing are very low. 

Given Kieran Crowley´s well known policy of keeping clubs happy the chances of Canada calling upon any of its professional players to play for the North American Barbarians is low. Instead, the players likely to feature will be domestic based players. This should, in theory, not have too much of an impact on the team given the low number of players contracted to clubs who represented Canada at Rugby World Cup 2011. But with post-World Cup player movements the situation is no longer so cut and dry. Overall Canada does have plenty of domestic players in the current test team who could very well play against the Golden Lions. Aside from the secondrow Canada would appear capable of putting together a good team. As such, Canada could potentially field a solid team in all other positions and call upon USA players for the missing positions to put together a predominant Canadian side playing under the name of the North American Barbarians. 

With the USA already has its own match the chances of a mainly Canadian team playing in Vancouver are all the more likely. This being the case then around a full team of players would be unavailable due to club duty. Players missing would likely include eight players in the forwards - props Jason Marshall and Andrew Tiedemann, secondrowers Jamie Cudmore, Tyler Hotson, Cameron Pearce and Brett Beukeboom and backrowers Aaron Carpenter and Jebb Sinclair. Young flyhalves Conor Braid and Conor McCann would also be missing as would centres Phil MacKenzie and DTH van de Merwe and backthree players Taylor Paris, Matt Evans and James Pritchard. 

Another question is the availability of former internationals such as Josh Jackson and Sean-Michael Stephen. Similar to the above mentioned players neither is likely to feature in April. While the nam,e certainly suggests it will be a team roughly half Canadian - half American and that Canada is not going to have access to its leading secondrowers there is also the possibility of fielding uncapped  players who either played in the 2012 Canadian Rugby Championship or represented Canada at junior level. Whilst this is not likely it is nevertheless a possibility. Should it occur then a potential all-Canadian side could be as follows:

North American Barbarians
1 Hubert Buydens, 2 Ryan Hamilton, 3 Doug Wooldridge
4 Scott MacDonald, 5 Jon Phelan
6 Adam Kleeberger, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Chauncey O´Toole

9 Phil Mack, 10 Harry Jones

12 Conor Trainor, 13 Nick Blevins
11 Jeff Hasler, 15 Ciaran Hearn, 14 Sean Duke

Reserves
16 Andrew Cho
17 Scott MacLeod
18 Jake Ilnicki
19 John Humphries
20 Nanyak Dala
21 Sean White 
22 Nathan Hirayama 
23 Liam Underwood

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