Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Chauncey O'Toole on the comeback trail


This weekend marked a notable return of Chauncey O'Toole to Canadian rugby in the Tokyo Sevens. Can he rediscover his form and return to the force he was in 2011?

Back 3 years ago, Canadian flanker Chauncey O'Toole was one of the most highly rated players in the country. Following outstanding performances especially in regards to his dynamic ball carrying throughout the last ever Churchill Cup, where he was named player of the tournament, the flanker was much sought after by clubs in Europe.

(Video: O'Toole running Italy A ragged in the 2011 Churchill Cup)

Eventually the Ospreys beat off the Scarlets for his signature. After a solid World Cup when he eventually linked up with the Swansea based team, everything seemed like it was in place for him to kick on and improve and become a leading figure in Canadian rugby.

However for whatever reason, his time at the Ospreys simply didn't work out. He only got on the field for 61 minutes of meaningful rugby, both against weak opposition in Treviso and Connacht. His most noteworthy moment on the field was getting held up during a seemingly easy try scoring run in

When he returned to Canada duty in June, his form was not quite up to the levels it had been over the previous year. Unlike utility back Matt Evans, who also didn't had a short unsuccessful stint at a Welsh region in the Dragons but dropped down and rebuilt his career with the Cornish Pirates, in 2013 surprisingly O'Toole just disappeared from rugby completely only 2 years after his career looked set to take off. 

O'Toole took time off from the sport to train as a firefighter to sort his post rugby career. But now on his comeback trail with the Canada Sevens squad according to coach Geraint John he has worked hard to regain fitness, whilst O'Toole says he is keen to return to feature in the 15 man version of the game in June as well, where Canada play Japan, Scotland and USA.

It's worthwhile not forgetting with his lengthy absence the level O'Toole reached at his best for Canada. It remains to be seen if he can reproduce that form, but just the very fact Canada now have back a player with such proven potential is good news for them.

GIF: O'Toole winning turnovers against All Blacks at the World Cup

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