Tyler Hotson’s rugby adventure

18/09/2012 § Leave a comment

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Tyler Hotson in action for Canada this summer, vs Georgia. (Photo: Judy Teasdale/flickr)

Canadian international Tyler Hotson spoke with Wanderer Sports via phone last week, sharing a bit about his path into professional rugby, his current ambitions and what playing with professionals does for a person.

Hotson, 27, has won 27 caps for Canada since making his debut in 2008. He played in school for St George’s in Vancouver, then moved to the University of British Columbia. After graduating he spent time playing for the UBC Old Boy Ravens and Northern Suburbs in Sydney before eventually moving to the UK three years ago. He also played for Canada West in the inaugural North America 4 competition in 2006.

Patrick Johnston: Tyler, you first started out your senior career at UBC. When you were playing there, did you think you’d one day be a professional player?

Tyler Hotson: It was a long shot always in my mind. I’d hoped to play for the Canadian team first, I just kept working at it and playing up through the levels. I just sort of kept it going from that. I went to play in Australia for a season and that really moved things up and got me into the Canada team.

Moving to Australia got me out of my comfort zone and showed me where I needed to go. I was It was another step up from playing in the NA4. I’d always had that goal in mind. It refreshed my game and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

What was the route to ending up with London Scottish this season? You played for a couple years for the UBCOB Ravens and then you moved to the UK…

I was playing for the [UBC] Old Boys and that was a tough time for the club. This is my fourth season here – I’ve played two seasons before, then I made the world cup squad a year ago, and so I played for Plymouth for three years.

It was a new challenge [moving to London Scottish]. It gave me more of a refreshing attitude. I’d played for three years in the same set up. This allowed me a new squad, new coaches, new players. I’m competing for my position each week. We’ve got 3 or 4 guys who play my position.

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Hotson is known for his work in the lineout (Photo: Judy Teasdale/flickr)

How about keeping your spot as a Canadian? You are on a playing visa, right?

Yep, on a regular work visa. It’s a privilege as a Canadian to play over here (in England), I have to treat it as me not getting a chance at all. The more you play… The Canadian coach [Kieran Crowley] says ‘you’re only as good as your last game.’ If I don’t’ play well tomorrow, I might not get selected for the next game. At the end of the season, you always have to prepare for the worst – every year I’ve had to pakc up my life and move back to Vancouver.

What are your strengths as a player?

My skills are quite good, handling passes; I’m taking charge in the set piece and I run our lineouts and I do a lot of analysis of the other teams lineouts. I love to scrum and those are huge things in the English game.

With your interest in analysing the game – I remember you seemed to like to do that at UBC too – do you think about coaching in the future?

I coach on and off a little bit here. I’ve got my level two certification. It’s not something I think about full time. I’m doing my master’s on the side right now. In the future I could see myself in business. I’ve got a goal to play in the 2015 world cup, in England. I played off the bench in the last world cup – I did play a lot for a guy coming off the bench – but there’s a bit of unfinished business there.

And the move to London itself has gone well?

It’s great, it’s awesome, the Olympics were here too, I arrived here and the Olympics started three days later. It’s a super fast-paced city. It’s a nice change for me. I was living in Plymouth which is beautiful and on the water but it’s smaller. There’s so much diversity in London.

What are the areas you still need to develop as a player?

Be more dominant physically. Impose myself more – whether it be a dominant tackle or I’m being a ball carrier, making some extra yardage. Things are going well, I scored a try last week.

It’s also about having self-belief in your ability to do those things too, isn’t it?

It’s all mental, teams lose games because of that, it’s all about keeping your head.

What about a move to South Africa or somewhere similar, like Jebb Sinclair has done?

It would be almost impossible to get down there. It was right place at right time for Jebb, it’s set himself up really well for coming back. It’s ridiculously hard – for a full time deal, it’s very hard to get the import spots.

Do you think he’s opening some doors, though? Showing Canadians can actually play the game?

Absolutely, it’s great. I hope it allows guys to play more rugby.

Finally, what’s the goal for the season?

Obviously I want to play each week and help the team be successful. Finish in the top four gets us in the playoffs. Individually, I want to continue to get better and be one of the top guys in my position. I’ve been here four years, I need to keep making an impression.

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