NOTE: Braid is the third player from the Canadian Direct Insurance Premier League to sign a contract overseas this season with Brett Beukeoom (UVic Vikes to Plymouth Albion) and Andrew Tiedemann (Castaway Wanderers to FC Auch) now plying their trade in England and France.
After an impressive showing on the November Tour, Canadian National fly half Connor Braid has signed a professional contract with Doncaster RFC of the RFU Championship.
The 22-year-old Victoria native will join current Canadian Internationals James Pritchard, Aaron Carpenter, and Matt Evans who are standouts in the RFU with their respective Bedford Blues, Plymouth Albion, and Cornish Pirates clubs.
Kicking off the November tour, and playing in his fourth National Cap, Braid scored Canada’s first try and made numerous line breaks against a very physical Samoan side. After an injury to Harry Jones 22-minutes into the second test, Braid helped Canada secure field position with precise and powerful kicking en route to Canada’s 35-3 routing of Russia. Against the NZ Maori, Braid continued his strong performance with frequent line breaks and came close to scoring Canada’s first try, before the ball was eventually ruled as a knock-on.
Although transitioning from Victoria, BC to Yorkshire, England will be a challenge for the young James Bay AA star, it won’t be the first time Braid has been stationed in the UK. Braid was one of the 10 Canadian internationals that spent a season in North Wales playing for RGC 1404 in 2010.
The transition will need to happen quickly as Braid’s first European professional game is scheduled to be Friday night when the Knights take on Jersey RFC. Braid will be fortunate to have a familiar face at the helm of his new club: former RGC 1404 coach and Canadian defensive coaching specialist Clive Griffiths is the team’s coach behind the signing of the Canadian utility back.
“Connor can play outside-half (fly half), centre, wing or full-back and he is also an accomplished kicker, both at goal and out of hand,” said Griffiths in a recent Doncaster Knights press release. “His versatility is a huge bonus given our injuries”
Braid’s offensive expertise, versatility, and kicking abilities will be a welcomed addition to the Knights roster who currently sit in the bottom of the RFU Championships, having been outscored 307 to 157 through 10 games this year.
“He is a strong player that can break defenses with his powerful running and he takes the ball to the line very well,” said Griffiths in a Doncaster Knights press release. “He is very capable in releasing runners off him and is solid in defense and he boasts a fantastic work rate and desire to learn.”
Having received four Caps for Canada’s NSMT and represented the National Men’s 7s team during the 2011-2012 IRB Sevens World Series, Braid has been a key contributor in high pressure games. During the 2012 IRB Americas Rugby Championship, Braid was the tournament points leader on Canada’s team that defeated Uruguay and the United States before losing to Argentina in the finals.
Griffiths is hoping that Braid can use his international experience, along with his competitiveness, to make an impact in Yorkshire, England.
“I really like his abrasiveness; he is a very ‘in-your-face’ type player which I try to encourage,” said Griffiths. “Hopefully he can integrate quickly into the Knights’ setup.”