Graduate Awarded First Professional Rugby Contract

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A Worcester graduate who was supported through his studies by the University’s Elite Athlete Mentor Scheme has earned his first professional rugby contract.

Sam Thomson, who graduated from his Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Management course last year, has been playing in New Zealand since January, but will soon be returning to Europe after signing a deal with Perpignan Academy in France.

Sam, who is originally from Stirlingshire and has represented Scotland at youth levels, will begin training with Perpignan Academy at the start of July.

He explains: “I received a few different offers, but I chose Perpignan. I will be part of the academy set-up there, but I hope to make it into their first team before the end of the season.”

Perpignan is a giant of French rugby, having won the national title seven times in their history. They can also count New Zealand’s Dan Carter, the highest point scorer in Test rugby history, among their notable former players.

It is at another of Carter’s former clubs, Southbridge RFC in New Zealand, where Sam has been plying his trade since graduating from university.

He continues: “I have been playing first team rugby for Southbridge, so it’s all gone really well. Rugby is a religion in New Zealand, so there is nowhere better to come and learn the game.

“I love to travel as well, so coming here after returning home to play in the Scottish Premier ship for a brief period was an easy move to make.”

During his time at the University of Worcester, Sam was supported by the mentor scheme which helps promising young athletes to combine their burgeoning sporting careers with their studies.

Of his time at Worcester, he says: “The time I spent playing rugby at Worcester will always be close to my heart; training and playing with your best mates is great, and the coaching team really knew how to get the best out of us.”