Toronto Arrows Announce Signings of Russell, Watkins for Remainder of 2021 Season
For Immediate Release
TORONTO, ON – The Toronto Arrows are pleased to announce the signings of Canadian backs Alex Russell and Reid Watkins for the remainder of the 2021 Major League Rugby season.
Russell arrives via the Rugby Canada National Development Academy in British Columbia, while Watkins joins from Rugby ATL’s Pathway 404 Academy.
With 10 Arrows players recently named to Canada’s roster for the national union’s July tour, along with three players selected for Uruguay’s squad for upcoming international tests, the team has continued to add to its squad depth as it completes its campaign abroad.
Utility Back | Chichester, England
Russell, 25, joins the Arrows following two seasons with the Rugby Canada’s Pacific Pride program that bookended participation with the National Sevens program in late 2020. The utility back was notably a member of Canada’s senior sevens side that travelled to Dubai this past spring for two Olympic preparation tournaments.
Comfortable at fullback, wing, or centre, Watkins originally played his grassroots rugby with the Quebec Sevens program before moving to Ontario, where Russell represented the Markham Irish and won a McCormick Cup in 2018 with Arrows teammate John Sheridan.
The 6’2” back previously played four years of varsity rugby at McGill University, captaining the university side in his final year.
Scrum-half | Burnaby, British Columbia
Watkins, 27, arrives at the Arrows from Rugby ATL’s Pathway 404 Academy, where he has been training since March.
The scrum-half has featured for several representative and touring sides over the past two years, including the Hartford Harpooners, USA South Panthers, British Columbia All Stars, Vancouver Island Crimson Tide, and the Vancouver Wave.
As a former elite-level wrestler, Watkins represented Canada at the World Championships and was a winner of a Pan-American Championship prior to becoming a NCAA athlete competing out of Simon Fraser University. Following a successful college career, Watkins retired from competitive wrestling in 2017 and returned his focus to rugby.
The 5’10” halfback is a graduate of the British Columbia Bears senior men’s provincial program, and played his grassroots rugby with Burnaby Lake alongside Arrows teammates Joe Tomlinson and Siaki Vikilani in the British Columbia Premiership.
“We’re pleased to add two skillful Canadian backs with top-tier representative experience for our final stretch of the 2021 season,” said Mark Winokur, Toronto Arrows Chief Operating Officer and General Manager. “With more than a dozen vacancies on our roster due to international selections, Alex and Reid are filling some sizable gaps in key positions. With both players getting in matches earlier this spring, we know they’re keen to hit the ground running and make an instant impact.”
The Arrows have two matches remaining in their third campaign in North America’s top-flight professional rugby league, with all fixtures to be played in the club’s temporary home of Atlanta.
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Football Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American professional club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
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