A 15-point win over Uruguay on Saturday and the Canadian men’s rugby team can vault three places to No. 17 in the world rugby rankings, its highest position since June 2016.
But it’s a tough ask.
The Canadians lost a World Cup qualifying series against the 17th-ranked South Americans, falling 70-60 on aggregate. Uruguay won the first leg 38-29 in Vancouver in January 2018 and the second leg 32-31 in Montevideo last February.
Canada can gain a measure of revenge in Montevideo on Saturday when the two teams meet in the first round of play in the Americas Rugby Championship.
Backrower Lucas Rumball, recently named skipper of the Toronto Arrows, captains Canada for the second time. The 23-year-old debuted against Uruguay three years ago in the ARC in Langford, B.C.m and now has 26 caps.
The pack features five others currently playing in Major League Rugby.
In the backs, Pat Parfrey will start at fly half with Jamie Mackenzie at scrum half. Kainoa Lloyd and Andrew Coe are on the wing with Ciaran Hearn and Ben LeSage at centre and Theo Sauder at fullback.
Scrum half Will Percillier, 20, and forward Nakai Penny, 22, could win their first caps off the bench.
Canada holds an 8-4 career against Uruguay dating back to 1995, although the South Americans have won their last three matches.
Coach Kingsley Jones is missing many of his overseas pros who helped secure World Cup qualification with wins over Kenya, Germany and Hong Kong at a November repechage in France.
Those missing include Tyler Ardron, Ray Barkwill, Brett Beukeboom, Hubert Buydens, Matt Evans, Jake Ilnicki, Phil Mack, Gord McRorie, Shane O’Leary, Evan Olmstead, Taylor Paris, Conor Trainor and DTH van der Merwe.
Saturday marks the beginning of Canada’s 2019 calendar ahead of the Rugby World Cup that starts Sept. 20 in Japan.
The Canadian men will play five matches in the ARC and three at the Pacific Nations Cup in July and August. Rugby Canada is looking for more games ahead of the World Cup.
Canada (2-3-0) finished fourth at last year’s ARC won by the 12th-ranked Americans (5-0-0). The tournament also features No. 28 Brazil, No. 29 Chile and an Argentine reserve side.
After Uruguay, Canada plays Brazil on Feb. 9 in Sao Paulo before hosting Chile and the Argentina XV in Langford, B.C., on Feb. 22 and March 1, respectively. Canada will wrap up tournament play March 8 against the U.S. in Seattle.
Djustice Sears-Duru, Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Oakville, Ont. Eric Howard, NOLA Gold (MLR), Ottawa Matt Tierney, Pau (France), Oakville, Ont. Conor Keys, Rotherham Titans (England), Stittsville, Ont. Josh Larsen, Austin Elite (MLR), Parskville, B.C. Kyle Baillie, NOLA Gold (MLR), Summerside, P.E.I. Lucas Rumball (capt.), Toronto Arrows (MLR), Mississauga, Ont. Luke Campbell, James Bay AA), Victoria Jamie Mackenzie, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Oakville, Ont, Pat Parfrey, unattached, St. John’s, N.L. Kainoa Lloyd, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Mississauga, Ont. Ciaran Hearn, London Irish (England) Conception Bay South, N.L. Ben LeSage, UBC Thunderbirds, Vancouver Andrew Coe, Markham Irish, Toronto Theo Sauder, Toronto Arrows, Vancouver.
Noah Barker, Utah Warriors (MLR), Courtenay, B.C. Ryan Kotlewski, Westshore RFC, Calgary Cole Keith, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Sussex, N.B. Mike Sheppard, Toronto Arrows (MLR), Brampton, Ont. Dustin Dobravsky, Castaway Wanderers, Hanover, Germany Nakai Penny, Seattle Seawolves (MLR), Penticton, B.C. Will Percillier, Stade Francais, Mill Bay, B.C. Nick Blevins, Calgary Hornets, Calgary.