RUGBY UNION: McKeen eyeing up World Cup place

RUGBY UNION: McKeen eyeing up World Cup place

Stan McKeen

Lynn Evans

First published in Rugby The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Sports reporter specialising in Rugby, Cricket and Athletics. Call me on 01865 425456

While his teammates enjoy the delights of freshers’ week, Oxford University back-row forward Stan McKeen is bidding for a place in the World Cup next year.

The 28-year-old is playing for a Canada development side in the Americas Rugby Championship in Cordoba, Argentina.

McKeen hopes that impressing in the four-team tournament will help him add to his 21 full caps and get a place on the plane to New Zealand.

Canada Select lost 49-14 to Argentina Jaguars on Tuesday in the first of the three games in ten days – USA and Tonga are still to come.

McKeen did himself no harm by scoring Canada’s only try as a replacement.

He said: “I was hoping to play in the Churchill Cup this summer, but I had to pull out with a hamstring injury.

“This tournament is my only chance to be seen by the coaches.

“Canada’s November tour will conflict with my academic studies, so this is my opportunity.”

He added: “I think they are looking at me as a six, but I’m capable of playing anywhere in the back row.

“If there is a chance somewhere else I’ll go for it.

“It is hard to say what my chances are because the team has been playing well and the back row is one of their strongest areas.

“But if I am on top of my game I have got a great shot.

“Hopefully I can show them what I am capable of.”

McKeen, who has also represented Oxfordshire, came to Oxford in 2008 to study law after playing professionally for the Cornish Pirates – and now hopes to become a lawyer.

Before that he missed out on a place in Canada’s squad for the 2007 World Cup, which makes him even more determined to succeed in 2011.

“I was injured in 2007,” said Mc-Keen. “It was a pretty big disappointment because I had played for four years previously.

“Hopefully I have got a second chance of making it.”

  • EX-OXFORD University prop and USA international Will Johnson has signed a professional contract with London Irish.

Johnson is on loan with Championship side London Welsh to gain experience, and like McKeen, has his eye on New Zealand in 2011.

  • LYNN Evans has returned to Iffley Road as head coach of Oxford University’s under 21 team.

Evans, who coached the Dark Blues from 1981 to 1995, is assisted by forwards coach Matt Street.

  • CAR parking at Iffley Road will be restricted to permit holders this season in order to protect the ground, which often gets waterlogged.

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