Vancouver, BC – As we did last year, we reviewed the previous year’s players to watch then he RWU Staff and myself named the current year’s class. Well we have completed our review of our RWU Class of 2014, and now we can begin naming our Rugby Canada Class of 2015. Please note this is a real Canadian helping name the 2015 Rugby Canada Players To Watch:
Tyson Beukeboom: Tyson is the Women’s Player of the Year. She was the Canadian Inter-University Sports (CIS) Women’s Player of the Championship Tournament when she help her college, St. Francis Xavier University, win the title in 2012, her senior year. That title was her second title in her undergrad career. Beukeboom got her first National Senior Women’s cap in Denver at Nations Cup in 2013. She got three caps in 2013 and only 1 in 2014 as she unfortunately missed the cut for the Women’s RWC 2014 squad. We expect a big year from her in 2015 as she cements her place in the rotation and as a first choice lock. Oh and if her last name sounds familiar, her cousin is Brett who is in the national team player poll for the men and her dad is NHL legend Jeff Beukeboom.
Gordon McRorie: Young Gordon is our Men’s Domestic Player of the Year. From Stirling County, Scotland, McRorie qualified for Canada this past year and won his first caps in June. At the time he was the best player in the Canadian Rugby Championship (with the Prairie Wolf Pack) playing both scrumhalf and flyhalf. He was then named the starting scrumhalf for the November tour with Phil Mack out injured. With Mack having blown out his ACL again in Dubai during the World 7s Series in the fall of 2014, there is a real question mark as to who will be the scrumhalf for Canada at the Rugby World Cup. For the time being McRorie is the main man for Canada. He was shaky at times, including a dropped ball that could have led to victory against Samoa, but he has all the talent, as a scrumhalf and goal kicker, to make the #9 jersey his own for a long time. He is a good bet to win a pro contract if not in the next couple months than certainly after the RWC.
Connor Braid: Connor is our Men’s International Player of the Year. He revived his career by getting back in good physical shape, playing well in the last two stops of the 7s circuit, and getting back in the national 15s side. He started against the Eagles in that depressing defeat, Rugby Canada fans prefer not to talk about. He signed a short term contract with Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12, where he didn’t quite impress enough to get a long term contract but got picked up full-time with London Scottish, where he is now starting at no. 12 for the Championship side. He played flyhalf on the November tour and was a bit of a mixed bag, but showed enough to suggest he can push on and be the starting flyhalf for the World Cup, we expect a big year ahead for him.
Cameron Pierce: Cameron is the Young Player of the Year. He just turned 23 in October which is still young for a lock. He is finally over some injury problems and elevated to a senior contract with league leaders Pau in Pro D2. He is behind 4 veteran second rows but managed to make his first two senior appearances in pro rugby recently and might be turning a corner as he scored his first try this past weekend. At 6’7″ and 245lbs, he has the size, athleticism, and aggression desperately needed in the Canadian second row. He is currently about 5th in the national pecking order but this could be his breakout year just in time for the World Cup.
Justin Douglas: Justin is the 7s Player of the Year. He has started to come into his own on the 7s circuit at the end of last season. He followed it up by then being the best player with the U-20s at the Junior World Rugby Trophy tournament in Hong Kong. He started on the left wing for the British Columbia Bears (BC) in the CRC and showed up well. Instead of playing in the Americas Rugby Championship though, he got sent off with the 7s side instead. It was no big deal as he has established himself as the 1st choice winger, forcing record try scorer Sean Duke to move to centre and is one of the best finishers on the circuit. We expect a big year ahead as he should continue to turn heads on the 7s circuit and has an outside shot at the World Cup with is impressive combination of size, speed and bags of potential.
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