A young rugby player from Edinburgh is today living the dream after debuting for European champions Toulon in France’s Top 14 competition.
Andrew Cramond, below, signed for Toulon after returning from this summer’s World Under-20 Championships in New Zealand where he gained his tenth Scotland cap in that age-group.
It was thought Cramond, a 6ft 5in and 18st 12lb second row, would spend at least a season in the youth academy in the south of France, but an opportunity arose when first choice David Smith, a Samoan internationalist, called off before last weekend’s encounter at Brive.
Cramond found himself on the bench alongside – amongst others – France’s Mathieu Bastareud, England’s Steffon Armitage and All Black Carl Hayman before being called up in the 65th minute of an ill-tempered match which Toulon went on to win 53-13 with Brive’s Peet Marais’ suffering an early red card.
Toulon’s starting line-up included Aussies Matt Giteau and James O’Connor as well as All Black Chris Masoe and Juan Smith, and Cramond summed up his experience on social media, declaring: “Pretty surreal to be playing alongside these guys.”
Friends back in Edinburgh, where Cramond represented Royal High and Edinburgh Accies before moving north to study and turning out for Aberdeen Grammar FPs, have been quick to highlight the whirlwind rise of a player keen to take his chance.
Ex-Accies colleagues Michael Liness and Tom Hancock registered congratulations as did Kevin Wyness, ex-coach of Aberdeen Grammar FPs.
And, referring to the fact Toulon have one of the biggest playing budgets in rugby thanks to benefactor Mourad Boudjellal, a comic book publisher, Royal High Cougars asked, tongue-in-cheek: “Did we ever agree a transfer fee for Andy Cramond? Fantastic stuff Andy, well done!”
Cramond’s grand-father captained Scotland at cricket, while Andrew is not the first player from Edinburgh to represent moneybags Toulon.
Near the start of the pro era former Boroughmuir and Watsonian prop Phil Fitzgerald earned a contract after going to the south of France to study and found himself playing alongside some of the game’s leading lights.
As for Cramond, he must wait to learn if he has retained his place when Toulon receive Montpellier on Saturday evening.