Canada's Tyler Ardron, right, tries to block the kick by Italy's Callum Braley during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Fukuoka, western Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Kyodo News *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Former captain Tyler Ardron returns to bolster Canadian rugby team in World Cup bid

Former captain Tyler Ardron returns to bolster Canadian rugby team in World Cup bid

Canada is getting reinforcements for its World Cup qualifying showdown with Chile in the form of former captain Tyler Ardron.

The 30-year-old from Lakefield, Ont., who plays in France for Castres Olympique, has arrived in B.C. and will fly to Chile with the rest of the team on Tuesday, according to coach Kingsley Jones.

Rugby Canada said flanker Matt Heaton and fullback Cooper Coats are unavailable for the match in Chile.

The 21st-ranked Canadian men edged No. 28 Chile 22-21 on Saturday at Starlight Stadium in Langford, B.C. The teams will decide the two-legged aggregate points series on Saturday in Valparaiso.

The series loser is out of World Cup contention.

Ardron, a six-foot-five, 245-pound forward who can play either lock or in the back row, captained Canada at the 2015 World Cup in England and the 2019 tournament in Japan. He has won 37 caps

He has also played professionally in Wales for Ospreys and in New Zealand with Bay of Plenty and the Chiefs. In 2019 he captained the famed Barbarians world all-star squad.

The Canadians are coming off a 59-50 aggregate series loss to the 16th-ranked U.S. Eagles, a result that moved the Americans into a playoff with No. 17 Uruguay with the winner qualifying for France 2023 as Americas 1 alongside No. 2 New Zealand, No. 6 France, No. 14 Italy and Africa 1 in Pool A.

The U.S. defeated Uruguay 19-16 to kick off their two-legged playoff Saturday in Glendale, Colo. The second leg is Saturday at Estadio Charrua in Montevideo.

The winner of the Canada-Chile series will face the U.S.-Uruguay loser to decide Americas 2, which will qualify in Pool D alongside No. 4 England, No. 8 Argentina, No. 10 Japan and No. 13 Samoa. The loser of the Americas 2 playoff has one last chance to qualify for France 2023 via a repechage tournament.

The Canadians leave Tuesday for Chile. They’ll take a short flight to Vancouver en route to Houston and then Santiago. Valparaiso is some 115 kilometres outside of the Chile capital.

The Canadians will have to spend their first 24 hours at the hotel in Chile, until negative COVID tests are returned.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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