SPORTS

Scottish scrum half Gordon McRorie makes mark with Canadian rugby team

11/06/2014 11:37 EST | Updated 01/06/2015 05:59 EST
Gordon McRorie was in the midst of a Canadian team media training session in Wales when he was pulled out and handed a phone to speak to a reporter.

The sudden graduation somehow seemed fitting. The Scottish-born scrum half has wasted little time making his mark in a Canadian jersey.

Despite not qualifying to play for Canada until May this year via residency, the 26-year-old is in a battle with Phil Mack for the starting No. 9 shirt. And with Mack currently injured, McRorie is making the most of Canada's November tour.

"I've loved every minute of it," McRorie, who has no family ties to Canada, said of his brief time with the national team. "This is what I wanted to do for a long time — play international rugby. It's been a dream come true."

He scored two tries last Saturday in a 28-23 loss to an RFU Championship XV side in Worcester, England, and will start again Friday when Canada, ranked 17th in the world, takes on No. 22 Namibia in Colwyn Bay, Wales.

Both teams are headed to the World Cup next year, albeit in different pools. Namibia is the only one of the 20 teams at the 2015 tournament that has yet to win a game at the rugby showcase.

Canada is in sore need of a win itself, after four straight losses this year. Its last victory was a 52-8 decision over Portugal in Lisbon last November.

McRorie first came to Canada in 2010 when he visited a friend from university in Edmonton for two weeks. He liked what he saw and moved to Canada in May 2011. He had finished at Sterling University in Scotland and wanted to try something new.

He eventually settled in Calgary where then-Hornets coach Graeme Moffat made him welcome at his club.

McRorie, who also plays for the Prairie Wolf Pack, had no thought that the move might lead to playing for Canada. But Moffat suggested a year later that perhaps he should stick around and see what happens.

He soon drew the attention of national team coaches and was available for selection in late May this year after qualifying through three years of Canadian residency.

"I'm pretty chuffed that I came here," he said.

He made his Canada debut on June 7 against Japan, at Swangard Stadium, in Burnaby. And a week later he came on late against his native Scotland.

He had a bit of a rocky start, giving up a penalty on a flubbed box kick against the Scots. But he has acquitted himself well since, winning selection to Canada's Americas Rugby Championship team prior to going on tour.

Coach Kieran Crowley has made five changes to the side that lost to the RFU Championship XV in Worcester, England, on Saturday. That game was not considered a test match with Canada missing some of its pros because the game fell outside the IRB November test window.

Prop Jason Marshall, fresh from his appearance with the Barbarians, comes into the pack along with London Irish lock Jebb Sinclair.

Connor Braid, Jeff Hassler and DTH van der Merwe enter the backline at fly half, wing and fullback, respectively.

Jordan Wilson-Ross starts on the bench and could win his first cap.

Canada lost to Samoa and beat Russia two years ago at Parc Eirias, site of Friday's game. Sinclair, Buydens, Doug Wooldridge and Sean White were some of the Canadians involved in the RGC 1404 team that played at Welsh facility a few seasons ago.

The Canadians head to France after Friday's match to take on No. 9 Samoa in Vannes on Nov. 14 before wrapping up the tour Nov. 22 in Bucharest against No. 16 Romania.

Canada and Romania are both in Pool D at the World Cup, along with No. 5 Ireland, No. 7 France and No. 14 Italy.

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Canada

Hubert Buydens (capt.), Prairie Wolf Pack, Saskatoon; Ray Barkwill, Niagara Wasps, Niagara Falls, Ont.; Jason Marshall, Hawke's Bay (New Zealand), Vancouver; Tyler Hotson, Doncaster Knights (England), Vancouver; Jebb Sinclair, London Irish (England), Fredericton; Kyle Gilmour, St. Albert RFC, St. Albert, Alta.; Nanyak Dala, Castaway Wanderers, Regina; John Moonlight, James Bay AA, Pickering, Ont.; Gordon McRorie, Calgary Hornets, Calgary; Connor Braid, Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), Victoria; Sean Duke, UVIC Vikes, Vancouver; Ciaran Hearn, Castaway Wanderers, Conception Bay South, N.L.; Conor Trainor, UBCOB Ravens, Vancouver; Jeff Hassler,- Ospreys (Wales), Okotoks, Alta.; DTH van der Merwe, Glasgow Warriors (Scotland), Regina.

Replacements

Doug Wooldridge, Lindsay RFC, Lindsay, Ont.; Ryan Hamilton, Capilano RFC, Vancouver; Jake Ilnicki, NSW Country Eagles (Australia), Williams Lake, B.C.; Brett Buekeboom, Plymouth Albion (England), Lindsay, Ont.; Aaron Carpenter, Cornish Pirates RFC (England), Brantford, Ont.; Sean White, James Bay AA, Victoria; Patrick Parfrey, Swilers RFC, St. Johns, N.L.; Jordan Wilson-Ross, James Bay AA, Alliston, Ont.

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