The Centurions Series: Marcus Di Rollo
In all-new written feature, we bring you the Glen Moray Centurions Series, where we shine a spotlight on some of the great players who have both represented the city and played 100 or more games for the club
Only 33 players are members of our centurions club, and in this week’s opening article, we look at the career of centre Marcus Di Rollo, who ranks 8th on our all-time appearance list.
Marcus played 148 games for his hometown club from 1999-2007 in a professional career that will see him go down as one of the most graceful centres to pull on an Edinburgh jersey.
We look at the life and times of Marcus, and hear from the teammates who knew him best, on and off the pitch.
Through the ranks
Marcus played school rugby at George Watson’s College where his performances in the centre ultimately saw him line-up in an Edinburgh schools side with future teammates Gordon Ross and Allan Jacobsen.
The centre played Scotland age-grade rugby at U20 level before breaking into the Edinburgh team at a young age, making the centre his own and never looking back.
A star is born
With a classic turn of pace and silky distribution abilities, Di Rollo was quick to shine in Edinburgh’s midfield under Frank Hadden.
Despite a disappointing 6th place finish in the inaugural season of the Celtic League in 2001-02, the capital side bounced back the very next season and reached the Quarter-Final stages of tournament, eventually falling short against Cardiff Blues.
The centre was rewarded for his fine club form with an uncapped appearance for Scotland against the Barbarians in May 2001. A match in which the centre played against eventual Man of the Match, Jonah Lomu, and Edinburgh Head Coach, Richard Cockerill.
The centre would eventually make his full Scotland Test debut on the 2002 Summer Tour, featuring as a replacement in the 65-23 win over USA.
With club coach Hadden taking the position of Scotland’s new Head Coach in 2005, Di Rollo quickly became a regular feature in the national midfield, going on to earn 21 caps for his country.
Di Rollo’s form during Edinburgh’s run to the then-Heineken Cup Quarter-Finals in 2003-04 was exceptional and the centre was able to form a telepathic partnership with fellow playmaker, Brendan Laney.
Di Rollo was able to showcase his abilities in a Quarter-Final defeat to Toulouse with this well-taken score that put Edinburgh right back in the contest.
“When I came into the Edinburgh squad, Marcus was the holder of the No. 13 jersey for both the club and Scotland – it was the jersey that I of course wanted. So, I tried to learn as much as I could from him as quickly as I could to compete.
“The thing that stood out about Marcus for me was his pass. He was generally a pretty silky player, always seemed to have time on the ball but his ability to deliver long, accurate passes for the wide players to run onto was stand out.
“Off field he was a pretty chilled out character but obviously knew the game very well.”
“For me, Mars was a ‘classic’ rugby player. In the early 2000’s crash ball centres were popular which didn’t fit with how we wanted to play.
“Mars was full of intelligent running lines, playmaking and possessed great passing skills. I also don’t think I ever saw anyone burn him on the outside – a tough job playing at 13.
“Playing outside him was a joy. Off the pitch he was as cool as he was on it!”
“Marcus was a very laidback player both on and off the pitch. He seemed to glide over the ground and had a lovely outside break on him.
“His best quality was his ability to throw a 20 metre pass off both hands in front of wings to run on to which was key in the way that Frank Hadden wanted to play back then.”