Scotland’s task in developing rugby tour momentum when tackling Canada in Toronto tonight could be hampered by a quirk of the draw for next year’s World Cup.
So says exiled Edinburgher Graeme Moffat who, since handing over the coaching reins at Stewart’s Melville and emigrating four years ago, has landed posts mentoring Canadian under-20s as well as serving Alberta province as its director of rugby.
Said former Currie centre Moffat: “Canada have found themselves in a World Cup group alongside France, Ireland, Italy and Romania. So, any opportunity to take advantage of experiencing European style of play has to be siezed.”
Also, Moffat has warned of a backlash to an astonishing Canadian defeat at the start of the latest Test window last weekend.
Leading Japan 25-9 at half-time, the Canadians then conceded 19 unanswered points in ushering the team known as the Brave Blossoms (who are in Scotland’s World Cup group) to their eighth consecutive victory.
“Canada are going to be terribly disappointed by the manner of that defeat and determined to react positively,” said Moffat, who gave an intriguing insight into how his adopted country are gradually developing a fully professional programme.
“I know that in Scotland it will be unusual for current international players like Tommy Seymour and Sean Lamont to drop into the sevens squad for the Commonwealth Games. In Canada, it works the other way around.
“Because resources are limited – the Prairie Wolfpack regional team I coach have a $120,000 budget – our pros are attached to the sevens squad and drop back into the 15-a-side set-up for internationals.”
With Canada men ranked sixth in the world, clearly they are competing effectively in the abbreviated version and Moffat is adamant there is a string of players capable of causing Scotland problems.
DTH van der Merwe is well known from being on contract to Glasgow and fellow winger Jeff Hassler is attached to Ospreys, while flanker Jebb Sinclair had a spell at Stewart’s Melville before carving out a career at London Irish.
“Add the players turning out overseas to sevens stars such as Phil Mack and the experience starts to build up, while, if there is one to watch, it is 21-year-old up-and-coming prop Jake Ilnicki,” said Moffat.
“This is a massive game for Canada, especially with a major television channel, TSN, providing increased exposure for rugby.
“The diplomatic thing would be to say I cannot lose with this fixture, but really both my feet are in the Canadian camp these days, especially as they have been giving me opportunities such as coaching the under-20s in the junior world trophy event earlier this year when we met Japan, Namibia and hosts Hong Kong.”
Scotland: S Hogg; S Maitland; S Lamont; P Horne; T Visser; F Russell; G Laidlaw (C); G Reid; S Lawson; M Low; R Gray; G Gilchrist; A Strokosch; K Brown; J Beattie. Replacements: K Bryce; K Traynor; G Cross; K Low; B Cowan; G Hart; R Jackson; M Evans.