RUGBY NEWS - Canada and the United States, both bound for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, renew their rivalry on Saturday at Denver in their opening match of the Pacific Nations Cup.
The warm-up competition ahead of the September 20 to November 2 global showdown, the first to be staged in Asia, will launch both North American sides into a tournament against fellow World Cup outfits Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and hosts Japan.
"The PNCs are a great team building effort and an exercise in building continuity and cohesion going into the World Cup," said Canada coach Kingsley Jones.
"Exciting games coming up and we'll find out a lot about each other," he added.
The Americans, ranked 15th, defeated Canada 30-25 in March in Seattle in the Americas Rugby Championship. The Eagles will face the 21st-ranked Canadians for the 62nd time, with Canada leading the all-time rivalry 38-21 and three drawn.
US coach Gary Gold has guided a four-week training camp in Colorado's high-altitude grounds and welcomes a lineup with Sale Sharks flyhalf A.J. MacGinty and London Irish center Bryce Campbell, US Sevens players Martin Iosefo and Madison Hughes as well as 11 players from US-based Major League Rugby.
"We've had a very productive month from a training perspective and we know that we will see a really well-coached and prepared Canadian side," Gold said.
"We know what we saw in Seattle was only a taste of what this Canada side can do and with Rugby World Cup in the forefront of everyone's minds this match will be no different.
"It's absolutely critical we remain disciplined through this game and continue to make the right decisions in tight situations."
Canada's lineup includes captain Tyler Ardon of Super Rugby side the Chiefs, DTH van der Merwe of the Glasgow Warriors and Castres' Taylor Paris.
In the Pacific Nations Cup, Pool A features the United States, Fiji and Tonga with Pool B including Canada, Japan and Samoa.
Teams play three matches against countries from the opposite pool and whichever among the six compiles the most points takes the title.
Teams receive four points for a win or two for a draw and a bonus point for losing by less than seven points or scoring four tries in a match.
The US squad will meet Samoa and Japan in Fiji while Canada plays Fiji and Tonga next month. The Americans and Canadians are also set for a September 7 meeting in Vancouver ahead of their trip to Japan for the Rugby World Cup.
"We're in every way focused on preparation for Rugby World Cup," Gold said.
"But, before that, we have four very important Test matches and a responsibility to deliver a competitive performance in every one of them."