Campaign to qualify for U20 Trophy ends Saturday for AIG MJAAs

EDMONTON, Alberta – Head Coach JD Stephenson has made four changes to the AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans’ starting XV as the under-20 program heads into its final opportunity to qualify for the World Rugby U20 Trophy against Canada Saturday, June 17.

In addition to four new age-grade representatives in the starting lineup, several athletes have also changed roles following a 46-12 defeat north of the border Tuesday. The MJAAs must overturn the 34-point deficit to book a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay, with Saturday’s 2 p.m. ET kickoff to be streamed live via Rugby Canada’s Facebook page.

Tickets for the match at Ellerslie Rugby Park are combined with access to the international test match between Canada’s senior men’s team and that of Romania. They are available for purchase via Rugby Canada’s events website.

Malon Al-Jiboori, one of three try-scorers for Stephenson’s All-Americans earlier this week, returns to the loose forwards as captain. Nafi Maafu moves to the No. 8 position to make room for the incoming Jack Miller, while Tommy Clark earns a starting nod in the second row beside try-scorer Daemon Torres. Lindenwood University’s Chance Wenglewski switches sides in the front row, with Payton Talea coming in for Jake Jorstad outside hooker Jack Iscaro.

The half-back pairing of Ruben de Haas and Samuel Walsh is unchanged, but a new wing combination of Peter Howard and capped Eagle Deion Mikesell will look to strike early and often against an unchanged Canadian side. Tuesday wing Harley Wheeler will wear No. 13 beside Christian Dyer, while slick full back Cristian Rodriguez maintains his place in the back line.

Options from the bench include capped Eagle Lorenzo Thomas and Boys High School All-Americans captain Bailey Wilson, with six of the eight reserves active in Tuesday’s defeat.

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | v. Canada

1. Payton Talea

2. Jack Iscaro

3. Chance Wenglewski

4. Tommy Clark

5. Daemon Torres

6. Malon Al-Jiboori (C)

7. Jack Miller

8. Nafi Maafu

9. Ruben de Haas

10. Samuel Walsh

11. Peter Howard

12. Christian Dyer

13. Harley Wheeler

14. Deion Mikesell

15. Cristian Rodriguez

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | Reserves

16. Martin Keuchkerian

17. Brian Nault

18. Jake Jorstad

19. Bailey Wilson

20. Justin Johnson

21. Quinn Perry

22. Aaron Matthews

23. Lorenzo Thomas

Canada | v. USA

1. Liam Murray

2. Dewald Kotze

3. Cole Keith

4. Liam Doll

5. Matt Beukeboom

6. Lachlan Currie

7. James O’Neill

8. Jake Thiel

9. Fraser Hurst

10. Will Kelly

11. Elias Ergas

12. Josh Thiel

13. George Barton (C)

14. Anton Ngongo

15. Aidan McMullan

Canada | Reserves

16. Steven Ng

17. Connor Sampson

18. Nick Frost

19. Jamie McNaughton

20. Jack McRogers

21. Will Percillier

22. Brennig Prevost

23. Cole Davis

AIG Men’s Junior All-Americans | World Rugby U20 Trophy qualifiers

v. Canada – L 46-12

v. Canada – Saturday, June 17 @ 2 p.m. ET – Ellerslie Rugby Park (Edmonton, Alberta)