Rugby: Time for the Tom and Tim show on summer tour

Tom Brown, left, seen here with new Scotland recruit Tim Visser, has played at  Under-17, Under-18 and Under-20 level with his country
Tom Brown, left, seen here with new Scotland recruit Tim Visser, has played at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-20 level with his country
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Tom Brown has pledged to play his part in taking a thriving Edinburgh Rugby partnership on tour when he jets off on a maiden full international campaign with Scotland.

The 22-year-old full back/wing has clinched his place on the back of a storming end to the season in which he started nine of Edinburgh’s last ten games, each one of them alongside Tim Visser, who is also on the plane for Australia, Fiji and Samoa. Referring to his Capital colleague, Brown says: “Tim is someone I’ve played a lot with at Edinburgh when guys were at the Six Nations. It’s great having Tim on tour. He has a natural ability to score tries and is such a great attacker.

“I love playing off him and hopefully I’m learning how he plays. He complements my game and I ho pe it is the other way round. To step on the park with him on tour would be great. It’s always good to play with someone you know.”

While Dutch-born Visser qualifies for Scotland on residency immediately after the opening Test against Australia on Tuesday, June 5, Brown’s route to the tour party could not be more different.

Having represented Scotland at Under-17 and Under-18 level, the product of North Berwick minis and Edinburgh Academy enjoyed two seasons in the national Under-20s during which he made a remarkable 12 appearances.

Following an Edinburgh debut aged 20 from off the bench in a victory over a Leinster team that contained new European Player of the Year Rob Kearney as well Brian O’Driscoll, a Lions captain, Brown needed just one outing for Scotland A this season to thrust himself into the consciousness of national coach Andy Robinson.

Brown also has good memories of rugby times spent in the company of fellow tourists Rob Harley and Matt Scott at age-group level, remarking: “We were unbeaten at Under-17s and successful at Under-18s and not only did I enjoy playing alongside Rob and Matt but Dave Denton, who is currently injured and unable to tour, was a member of that squad along with Stuart McInally who must have been close to selection.

“A highlight for our Under-20 team was drawing at home to France in Inverness because it was the first time Scotland hadn’t lost to these opponents. Under-20 World Cups weren’t so successful but they did give me a taste of what to expect from Australians with their great skill-sets and the physicality of Fijians if I am fortunate to be selected.

“I’ve also come across Fiji and Samoa in seven-a-sides where they form their ability to attack from anywhere.”

Edinburgh’s run to the semi-finals of the Heineken European Cup was partly based on a try from Brown which sparked the comeback to defeat Racing Metro at home and he admits success in the continent’s blue riband competition has proved encouraging. “It’s been a great season for me and Edinburgh and I agree I have got the call-up on the back of the club’s progress.

“Our results in Europe show that Edinburgh are on the up and we are really looking forward to next year and the season coming. We were unlucky not to be in the final of the Heineken Cup where anything could happen but we were competitive and next year will hopefully be the same.”

Brown intends to make that happen partly to repay a string of coaches who have influenced his career positively.

He says: “Edinburgh Accies have been a huge part of my rugby life. The first time I went into the senior game was with them and I spent two years there at Raeburn Place. My first game for Accies was a real baptism of fire, though. We were playing Stirling away and I found myself on the wing directly up against Roly Reid who had been capped by Scotland and was on release from Edinburgh. I was 18 and just out of school. For a first senior outing it was nerve-wracking.

“That I came through owes much to people like Grant McKelvey who selected me for individual player development while Graham Shiel not only coached me for Scottish sevens but was involved with the national academy for a while.

“Likewise, Bryan Easson at the national academy helped me more recently while Rob Moffat, as well as giving me an Edinburgh debut, was involved coaching the Under-20s.

“My first steps towards this tour were with these guys and I owe them a lot.”

Scotland tour: v Australia, Newcastle, Tuesday, June 5; v Fiji, Lautoka, Saturday, June 16; v Samoa, Apia, Saturday June 23.