Solid grounding in Canada leaves Taylor Paris made-to-measure for Glasgow test
THE name has a French ring to it but Glasgow’s new teenage signing is of Italian descent.
However, Taylor Paris has come to Scotland to further a career that has already made him a sporting star in Canada. Now, that may sound like a new advertising campaign for confused.com, but the 19-year-old, who is the first signing by new Warriors coach Gregor Townsend, has already played rugby in countless countries before even celebrating five years in the sport.
He has been quick to take to it, though. Having been handed an oval ball and enticed away from ice hockey at the age of 14, he then made his debut for the Canadian under-17 team less than two years later and duly became the youngest full cap in both the Canada sevens side, aged 17, and the full Test squad at just 18, before joining the Canucks in the World Cup last year.
One of the reasons Gregor Townsend was moved to snap up the rangy youngster on an initial year’s contract was his alacrity on the field, Paris displaying a genuine pace and slick step that Townsend feels could bring an extra attacking threat to his side in the forthcoming RaboDirect PRO12 and possibly Heineken Cup campaigns.
Paris has joined the Warriors, after a short holiday, fresh from captaining the Canada U20s in the IRB Junior World Trophy and Townsend is pleased with what he has seen in his first ten days.
“Taylor has fitted in well with the Warriors squad and we’re really looking forward to seeing how he performs as the season goes on,” said the coach.
“It’s clear he has a lot of ability and we want to help him fulfil that abundance of potential. Playing international rugby when just a teenager means he brings with him a lot of maturity, despite his age, and coupled with his determination to improve we’ve no doubt he’ll become a great asset for the Glasgow Warriors.”
The youngster admits that he knew litle of Scottish rugby, never mind Glasgow Warriors growing up as a kid in Barrie, Ontario, but once he got into the Canada squad and mingled with a number of full-time pros, he had his eyes opened to the prospect of pursuing a professional career in Europe. With DTH van der Merwe and Ander Monro, the former Heriot’s and Edinburgh stand-off, among his teammates Scotland came highly recommended.
But, first things first, the name. Let’s rule out any possible connection with France. Any European descent there?
“There is, but not French,” he says, laughing. “My dad’s side of the family are Italian. But I am Canadian born and bred and I never wanted to play for any other country. It has been a huge honour to be able to play for Canada and I hope to be able to earn more opportunities to do that as my career develops.
“To do that I need to be playing pro rugby and so it’s very exciting to come to Scotland and to Glasgow, and be given an opportunity to play professionally here. I know a bit about Scotland from school, but I’ve found out more about this city and the club from DTH and I’m just finding out the ins and outs now that I’m here.
“I’m not expecting to come and get straight into the team because I knew before I came that there were a lot of top-quality and experienced players here, but it’s a fantastic opportunity. I want to work as hard as I can and take the chances I’m given to grow and learn and become a better rugby player.”
Paris has hardly had a minute to stop and draw breath from when he first stepped into rugby, having joined a school in Ontario, Barrie Central, just five years ago, and been handed a flanker’s jersey. He gradually moved further out and quickly became a star of the Canadian sevens squad, scoring his first try after just ten seconds in Wellington, New Zealand, and going on to finish some stunning tries and save many others with his pace and strong defence.
The 5ft 11in wing is an intriguing character, who rates Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd among his favourite bands and cites The Outliers – The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell as a favourite book.
Gladwell seeks to explode the belief that successful people are born with talent, insisting that a common denominator between leading figures, in and out of sport, is reaching 10,000 hours of ever-improving and more competitive practise.
“I’ve not reached that yet,” Paris said, “but I’ve enjoyed grasping the opportunities that have come my way and running with them so far.”
That underpins his reason for joining Glasgow – to take another step up in his career.
Paris expects to start the season behind the likes of Van der Merwe, Sean and Rory Lamont, Tommy Seymour, Peter Murchie and Stuart Hogg in the back three pecking order.
But, already up to speed with pro training and Test expectations, he is hopeful that he can use the next 12 months settled in one European city to prove that he has what it takes to move to a new level.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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