Canada faces stiff rugby test against experienced, physical Georgia side

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Forward Tyler Ardron, taking over from the injured Aaron Carpenter, will captain Canada in its rugby test match against Georgia at Dinamo Arena in Tbilisi on Saturday.

The game against 16th-ranked Georgia is the first for No. 14 Canada on its European tour. The Canadians play No. 17 Romania on Nov. 16 and No. 22 Portugal on Nov. 23.

Georgia is expected to be Canada's toughest test on tour. After losing 40-15 to the Maori All Blacks on Sunday in Toronto, the Canadians didn't arrive in Georgia until Wednesday.

Plus the Georgians feature a tough, physical pack with seven of their starting forwards playing professionally in France.

Georgia also has the edge in experience with 501 caps in its starting lineup, compared to 196 for Canada, according to the International Rugby Board.

The home side has only one starter with fewer than 10 caps, while Canada has seven players with single-digit caps.

Winger Irakli Machkhaneli will captain Georgia in his 67th international test match.

Bolstered by the arrival of some of his overseas pros, Canadian coach Kieran Crowley has made several changes from the starting 15 beaten by the Maori All Blacks.

Carpenter suffered an upper body injury in that loss.

Prop Andrew Tiedemann returns from injury while Ardron moves from the second row to No. 8, allowing Brett Beukeboom to come in at lock. London Irish forward Jebb Sinclair starts at blindside flanker in place of Nanyak Dala.

There is also movement in the backs with the addition of Sale Sharks winger Phil Mackenzie. Conor Trainer moves from wing to outside centre, replacing Ciaran Hearn

Forwards Jake Ilnicki, Djustice Sears-Duru and Benoit Piffero are in the matchday 22 and could win their first cap coming off the bench.

Canada has won two of the three previous meetings between the two teams, with a 31-12 victory in June 2012 in Burnaby, B.C., and a 42-10 decision in June 2009 in Colorado. Georgia beat Canada 22-15 in Tbilisi in November 2010.

The Canadian men could face Georgia again in the 2015 World Cup.

The Georgians will take part in a tournament early next year with Belgium, Portugal, Romania, Russia and Spain, with the top two advancing to the World Cup as Europe 1 and 2.

No. 3 England, No. 5 France, No. 6 Wales, No. 8 Ireland, No. 9 Scotland, and No. 12 Italy have already qualified for the World Cup out of Europe.

Canada has already earned its place in Group D with France, Ireland, Italy and Europe 2.

Players unavailable for the Canadian European tour include Jamie Cudmore, Tom Dolezel, Sean Duke, Nathan Hirayama, Jason Marshall and DTH Van Der Merwe, either through injury or personal/club commitments.

NOTES — Georgia has never lost to a visiting side from the Americas, having defeated Canada, the Argentina Jaguars, Chile and the U.S. on tour ... Georgia's pack has a three-kilogram (6.6-pound) weight advantage per man on Canada's ... South African Lourens van der Merwe will serve as referee in his seventh test.



Hubert Buydens, Manawatu Turbos (New Zealand), Saskatoon; Ray Barkwill, Niagara Wasps, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Andrew Tiedemann, Castaway Wanderers, St. Albert, Alta.; Jon Phelan, Lille Metropole Rugby (France), Montreal; Brett Beukeboom, Plymouth Albion (England), Lindsay, Ont.; Jebb Sinclair, London Irish (England), Fredericton; John Moonlight, James Bay AA, Pickering, Ont.; Tyler Ardron (capt.), Ospreys (Wales) Lakefield, Ont.; Phil Mack, James Bay AA, Victoria; Liam Underwood, Queen's University, Toronto; Phil Mackenzie, Sale Sharks (England), Oakville, Ont., Harry Jones, Capilano RFC, West Vancouver; Conor Trainor, UBCOB Ravens, Vancouver; Jeff Hassler, Ospreys (Wales), Okotoks, Alta.; Matt Evans, Cornish Pirates (England), Maple Bay, B.C.


Jake Ilnicki, Williams Lake Rustlers, Williams Lake, B.C.; Djustice Sears-Duru, Castaway Wanderers, Oakville, Ont.; Benoit Piffero, Burnaby Lake RFC, Montreal; Tyler Hotson, London Scottish (England), Vancouver; Adam Kleeberger, Castaway Wanderers, White Rock, B.C.; Jamie Mackenzie, UVIC Vikes, Oakville, Ont.; Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; James Pritchard, Bedford Blues (England) Parkes, Australia.


Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamuka, Davit Kubriashvili, Konstantine Mikautadze, Levan Datunashvili, Viktor Kolelishvili, Mamuka Gorgodze, Giorgi Chkhaidze, Giorgi Begadze, Lasha Khmaladze, Tamaz Mchedlidze, Merab Sharikadze, Davit Kacharava, Irakli Machkhaneli (capt.), Merab Kvirikashvili.

Organizations: All Blacks, International Rugby Board, Group D Queen's University

Geographic location: Georgia, Canada, France England Tbilisi Romania Portugal Toronto Wales Ireland Italy Europe Oakville West Vancouver Burnaby Montreal Colorado London Belgium Russia Spain Scotland Williams Lake Americas Chile U.S. New Zealand Saskatoon Niagara Falls Lindsay Fredericton Pickering Lakefield Victoria Okotoks Maple Bay White Rock Calgary Australia

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