WAITANGI, 6 Sept. - Canadians Jamie and Phil Mackenzie are one of the 13 pairs of brothers competing in Rugby World Cup 2011, and the duo hope to continue a winning streak that began last year.
The brothers began playing together in the Canada jersey in late 2010, defeating Spain and the USA. The two games were a trial for younger brother Jamie, who is now a permanent fixture at his brother’s English club team, Esher.
The same club and national jersey are not all the boys share. “We do quite a bit together, playing video games, double dating,” said Phil, 24. “My girlfriend is best friends with his girlfriend. He met his first, and I met my girlfriend through his girlfriend.”
While the two are happy to hang out off the field, Jamie insists there is no special genetic magic they bring to the pitch. “There is nothing we do special on the field that would make you know we are brothers,” he said.
But two spectators in particular will have their eyes firmly fixed on the Mackenzie players. The brothers’ father and grandfather are journeying to New Zealand to watch all four of Canada’s pool matches.
Phil rates his father as their biggest fan, who has made globetrotting a pastime while following his sons’ careers. “Dad has been to the Dubai Sevens, the November tour in Portugal and Spain, England, Denver. It’s more of a question of where he hasn’t been rather than where he has.”
Their mother is a more reluctant spectator. “She gets nervous, especially when we are both playing, it would be really stressful watching us play four games in New Zealand, so she’ll be getting our text message updates,” said Phil.
Jamie, 22, knows the RWC 2011 experience will be a new one for all the Mackenzie family. “Rugby is the national sport of New Zealand. Dad has seen us play our biggest match, which was 11,000 in Toronto against the USA.
“But we have sold-out to France in a stadium of 22,000, so that will be pretty cool.”
While some of the siblings in this World Cup appear for rival countries, Phil is glad the Mackenzies are on the same side.
“It is pretty special to play with him here,” he said. “We never imagined it, our parents are over the moon. Emotionally, it’s better than playing against each other - he wouldn’t speak to me for a week if I beat him.”