The bulk of the roster for The Rock team that will take on England's national amateur rugby team June 4 in St. John's has been announced.
Rock coach Pat Parfrey said while most of the squad has been selected, the final few slots won't be finalized until a pre-game camp, to be held Tuesday..
England Counties, the English national amateur rugby team, will arrive in St John's Sundayto start their three-game Canadian tour. The Rock game, which opens the tour, will be played 6:15 p.m. at the Swilers Complex. The visitors will also play the Ontario Blues June 8 before finishing up against British Columbia Bears June 12. This is the third Canadian tour for England Counties in the past decade and they have never lost a match.
Parfrey calls English Counties "a substantial squad" and rates them as the third best team to play here since the Junior All Blacks and Barbarians from Australia. He said English Counties would be favourites to beat the Canada's national team. St. John's hosted the All Blacks development team in 1991. The Aussies visited here four years later.
Parfrey pointed out The Rock team will be without Ciaran Hearn and Chauncey O'Toole, both chosen to play in the Churchill Cup for Canada.
However, Parfrey says the team will be stronger than last year's as veterans Peter Densmore and Sean O'Leary are returning, while Ben Trevorrow from British Columbia, Rich O'Malley of Nova Scotia and Toni Wodzicki of Quebec will play, as will locals Chris Burt, Zac Coughlan and Patrick Parfrey.
Parfrey said the team has been training hard under the supervision of Bob Thompson.
"Games against national teams are career highlights and I expect The Rock to give a passionate and aggressive performance," said Parfrey.
The Counties, an all-star side, won all previous games in Canada and the United States, but manager (coach) Danny Hodgson says the North American standard in the game is improving.
In a story on the Unofficial England Rugby website, Hodgson said: "Canada is working hard in many directions to drive their national game forward and are keen to get all the international exposure they can for their players.
"In addition to providing a competitive, rugby development process for our players," said Hodgson, "I'm sure they will also enjoy another great touring experience.
"We have always prided ourselves on the fact that our players come back from overseas tours as better players and that will be our aim in Canada."
The Canadian tour is a warm-up for the English team's matches against club national teams of Ireland and France in February and March.
A press conference is set for 11 a.m. June 1 at the Swilers Complex.
Ticket prices for the major match are $10 (youth) $20 (general), $30 (deck) and VIP ($50).
Following the England Counties match, The Rock will tour Wales July 22-27 in preparation for the 2010 Americas Rugby Championship (ARC) league.
The Rock team that will face English Counties June 4:
Props: Frank Walsh, Rod Snow, Chris Burt and either Darryl Cross, Phil Alcock or Joel Anderson
Hooker: Peter Densmore, Owen Parfrey
Second row: Brad Lester, Sean O'Leary and either Jon Phelan or Justin Meyers
Back row: Kevin Parfrey, Jebb Sinclair, Toni Wodzicki, Zac Coughlan
Scrum half: Rich O'Malley, Cyril Bugden
Outhalf: Dean Blanks, Patrick Parfrey
Centres:Tyler Wish, Geoff Warden, Robert Wilson
Wings: Ben Trevorrow, Simon Pacey and either Mike Rudofsky or Jason Picco
Fullback: Morgan Lovell