THERE’S a big difference between playing primary school rugby and kicking off a major European fixture – but one Edinburgh pupil is limbering up to tackle it.
Cameron Taylor, 11, a forward for the Boroughmuir P7 team, will be guest of honour at this weekend’s Heineken Cup opener at Murrayfield when he runs out on to the pitch as a mascot for the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS).
The clash between Edinburgh and Saracens on Saturday will see Cameron don home colours and distribute goodies to fans at half-time.
But the occasion will be an emotional one for the youngster, who is making his star appearance in honour of his late sister, Darcy. She died aged two from hypoplastic left heart syndrome in 2009.
The news that Cameron will be mascot comes as his mum, Kate, 33, a military clerk for 2 Scots the Royal Regiment of Scotland, prepares to travel to Afghanistan for three months in March. Her husband, Craig, an infantryman with 4 Scots, is due to make the same trip as part of a six-month deployment soon after her return.
Mrs Taylor said her son was “ecstatic” when the family was informed a month ago that he had been selected as mascot.
She said: “The association called me and then I told Cameron. He was ecstatic when he found out, really chuffed.
“He said, ‘Me? They want me?’ and he was asking all these questions about what a mascot does and what it involves.”
Mrs Taylor said Cameron’s selection had been a massive boost following three painful years coping with the death of his sister.
She said life had been made even more difficult by the fact she and her husband – currently in Canada – are often required to make trips overseas, meaning Cameron and his little brother, Archie, one, have to stay with relatives.
She said: “Cameron has found it hard over the years to make friends because of everything that happened with his sister. It’s also been tough with both his parents being in the army and being away a lot of the time. So I think this means a lot to him as, in a way, it’s him being accepted. He’s in the limelight for once.
“It builds his self-esteem because it’s someone wanting him to do something special. Before, he was always thinking people didn’t like him and didn’t want him to be anything.”
Mrs Taylor said her next trip to Afghanistan would be particularly difficult to leave her two young sons.
The Heineken Cup showdown at Murrayfield kicks off at 1.35pm.