Canada ring changes and aim for top marks against France

​Canada will have some Leicester schoolchildren to thank should they spring a surprise against France in their Pool D match at Stadium MK on Thursday.

Coach Kieran Crowley admitted that recovering from Saturday’s defeat against Italy and looking ahead to Thursday's clash against Les Bleus has been tough on his squad, but he hopes a school excursion after training has helped clear his players’ heads.

"That’s the biggest challenge when you have short turnarounds, the mental side of it," Crowley said at the team’s Leicester headquarters.

"You put a lot into it physically, but you also put a lot into it mentally. When I was involved in test-match rugby it used to take me about a week to come back down before I was ready to go again.

"We had training at Leicester Grammar School, lunch with the school, and then an assembly, so hopefully those sorts of things help freshen the mental side a little bit."


Crowley has opted to freshen up his starting line-up with six changes to the side that began the match against Italy. Number eight Tyler Ardron (pictured above) retains his place and the captaincy, however, and he said he felt the benefit of a break, which also involved a rendition of the national anthem and a ‘Q & A’ with students.

"You have got to get away from rugby for a bit," Ardron said. "We have been together since the beginning of July, so it’s good to get out and do something different."

Five of the players coming into the starting XV are playing in their first RWC and are not as accustomed to such intense competition as their captain, who plays his club rugby with Ospreys.


Ardron thinks that could work in Canada’s favour, however. "It’s good to have some of the inexperienced guys because they don’t know what the expectations are as much. They are just coming in and playing another team," he added.

"Maybe a little bit of naivety almost, in terms of what everybody thinks we’re meant to do, is good for some of us."

Aaron Carpenter, Brett Beukeboom, Kyle Gilmour, Richard Thorpe, Phil Mack and Nick Blevins are making their RWC debuts while Jamie Cudmore keeps his place in the second row to move within one RWC appearance of Rod Snow's Canada record.