Scotland A Look Forward To North American Odyssey

While Scots the world over are today celebrating St Andrew's Day, Scotland scrum-half Rory Lawson is looking further ahead to June when Scotland A will be flying to Ontario, Canada for the 2008 Barclays Churchill Cup. The biggest international rugby tournament in North America, the Barclays Churchill Cup is being staged in Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto and over the border with the US in Chicago.

While Scots the world over are today celebrating St Andrew's Day, Scotland scrum-half Rory Lawson is looking further ahead to June when Scotland A will be flying to Ontario, Canada for the 2008 Barclays Churchill Cup.

The biggest international rugby tournament in North America, the Barclays Churchill Cup is being staged in Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto and over the border with the US in Chicago.

Lawson, who has played in the last two competitions said today: "I was so excited to hear that the tournament was returning to North America. It was good to be close to home this summer and play at Henley and Twickenham in England, but I’ve fond memories of playing in Canada in 2006."

Lawson captained Scotland A that year when they beat England A in Toronto. Lawson smiles as he remembers the match: "The weather was terrible but the crowd still came out to watch the game. It is always fantastic to beat England and the majority of the crowd in Toronto that day was all cheering for Scotland which was great!"

He led Scotland A to the Barclays Churchill Cup Final in 2006 in Edmonton where they eventually lost to the New Zealand Maori. He has recently returned from playing for the senior Scotland team in the Rugby World Cup in France. Scotland reached the quarter finals of the competition.

Six international teams participate in the Barclays Churchill Cup which begins with England A (branded the Saxons) against USA and Scotland A against Canada in Ottawa on Saturday 7 June.

The tournament is now in its sixth year and Lawson explains why it is such an important development tool for rugby teams. He said: "It was a new and interesting experience to play rugby in a country where rugby is not a dominant or even well-known sport. The tournament gives all the teams involved an opportunity to test themselves against opposition they would not normally face. It also gives the players a wonderful opportunity to experience other countries and cultures."

Rory, grandson of the "Voice of rugby", Bill McLaren, added: "We all really enjoyed our time in Ottawa. It was the city where we spent the most time two years ago and we were very well looked after."

After playing the host nation Canada in Ottawa on 7 June, Scotland A will travel on to Canada's old capital Kingston for their second pool match. Their opposition is still to be confirmed but is tipped to be Argentina. Lawson said: "I have never been to Kingston but it sounds like a nice city and I have been told that everyone there is already embracing the tournament.

"There seem to be Scots everywhere you go in Canada and the Scots and Canadians tend to get on pretty well. Everyone was so friendly to us back in 2006, and I am sure everyone in the squad is looking forward to returning to Canada next summer."

Scotland A will be coached this season by former England head coach Andy Robinson and Sean Lineen.

Scotland A schedule for the 2008 Barclays Churchill Cup:

Saturday 7 June - Canada v. Scotland A in Ottawa
Wednesday 11 June - Team TBA v. Scotland A in Kingston
Saturday 21 June - Finals Day in Chicago