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The New York Athletic Club is hosting Ontario, the Canadian Rugby Championship titlists, Saturday in the first-ever meeting between the American club and the Canadian provincial champs.

The Blues are an all-star side fed by 12 clubs. They have a couple of Canadian National Team players and several potential internationals and U20 internationals on the roster.

“They have big, strong front rowers. They have a high work rate back row, especially a high work rate 7,” said NYAC coach Bruce McLane of Ontario. “They have experience in [Team Canada center] Derek Daypuck. And they have some youthful exuberance in their flyhalf and fullback.”

The AC will be slightly stronger than in their Elite Cup game against Life a couple of weeks back, but they’ll still be without Mike Petri, Neil McMillan, Troy Hall and Al MacFarland. In fact, they’ll be starting usual front rowers Conor Coyne and Pat Fiffe in the back row.

Eagle flyhalf Toby L’Estrange will still be at flyhalf, Eagle lock Brian Doyle will still be in the engine room and Eagle hopeful Chris Chapman will be at fullback, so the AC is putting out a pretty good team despite the injuries.

“On our end, we’re looking to find out who we are and we’re looking to find out if we can compete with the best in Canada, and we’re hoping to develop a relationship where we can play these guys twice a year,” said McLane.

“So even though we’re slightly under strength, we’d like to put on a performance that says to Ontario that it’s a worthwhile endeavor to play NYAC and that it’s a worthwhile endeavor to play American clubs in general.”