He played for Forrester RFC and later Boroughmuir RFC, and was also nominated for Rugby World's "Unsung Hero" award in 1989 - he was the only Scot to be given an award in that year, after playing in all Five Nations matches that year. He received thirteen caps playing as prop forward for the national team.
Rowan excavated the Edinburgh Vaults, after he found a tunnel leading to them in the 1980s. From this tunnel he helped Romanian rugby player Cristian Raducanu escape the Romanian secret police and seek political asylum weeks before the Romanian uprising of 1989.
Rowan stood for the Scottish Parliament elections in 1999.
He is currently semi retired. As a businessman he has run a number of pubs and bars in Edinburgh, including the Tron Tavern in the Old Town, where it was traditional for the Scotland team to entertain visiting rugby players after international games.
- Starmer-Smith, Nigel & Robertson, Ian (eds) The Whitbread Rugby World '89 (Lennard Books, 1988 ISBN 1-85291-038-0)
- "Former Scotland rugby player fined £250 over violent outburst to lawyer Rowan made death threat", The Herald, 11 September 1996. Retrieved 2014-11-13.
- Starmer-Smith & Robertson, p100
- Starmer-Smith & Robertson, p133
- "Former Scots rugby star to stand for Parliament", The Herald, 6 April 1999. Via Highbeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- Reid, Alisdair. "Romania comes in from the cold", The Sunday Herald, 5 November 2006. Via Highbeam Research (subscription required). Retrieved 2015-12-06.
- Horror tale is stranger than fiction, article mentioning Norrie Rowan.
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