Veterans to lead Canada into Rugby World Cup


Veterans Morgan Williams and Mike James will lead Canada into its 2007 Rugby World Cup opener against Wales on Sunday in Nantes, France.


Veterans Morgan Williams and Mike James will lead Canada into its 2007 Rugby World Cup opener against Wales on Sunday in Nantes, France.

Canadian coach Ric Suggitt on Friday released the team's 12-man starting lineup for the Wales match, a group that features a mix of veterans and newcomers.

"We have Mike James and Morgan Williams as captain and vice-captain, who together have 20 years of professional rugby experience at the highest levels of the game," Suggitt said. "They have the superb leadership qualities and have been given the freedom to make decisions on the field to play the style of rugby we need to play to win the game.

"I can't wait until Sunday to see a great group of Canadian athletes, and not just rugby players, take the field in this World Cup, and I hope things go well for them, because they deserve it."

Williams, a scrum half from Cole Harbour, N.S., and James, a lock from Burnaby, B.C., will be playing Wales for the sixth time in their careers. James - owner of 53 international caps - first played Wales in 1994 in his third international game for Canada. Williams faced Wales in 1999 in the second of his 51 caps.

For prop Rod Snow, a Bonavista, Nfld., native who played professionally in Wales for a decade, it will be his fifth game against Wales and his 59th cap.

Six players from the last Canadian team to face Wales - losing 61-26 last November at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - will be in Canada's starting lineup on Sunday: lock Luke Tait of Barrie, Ont.; 8-man Sean-Michael Stephen of Oakville, Ont.; wing James Pritchard of Sydney, Australia (who plays for Canada because his grandfather is from Saskatchewan); centre David Spicer of Victoria; fullback Mike Pyke of Victoria; and Williams.

"This team has made a good deal of progress since we last played Wales," Suggitt said. "The players are much better prepared and are obviously more experienced. We're in pretty good shape and have had a very good build-up to this game, but then probably so has Wales. We have to disrupt them and play positive rugby on our side of the ball then we might surprise some people."

Canada's most recent international match was a 42-12 win Aug. 18 over Portugal in Ottawa.


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