Sam Skinner In Scotland Debut
Skinner Shines In Man of The Match Performance During International Debut
For those that know Sam, it comes as no surprise that the former Sport Scholar and EURFC 1st XV Captain has made his senior international debut at the ripe old age of 23.
Having risen through the ranks of the Chiefs academy, with the first taste of senior rugby at National 2 South team Taunton Titans at 17, Sam’s transition into performance rugby began with the University’s and Chief’s well-oiled player development pathway.
University of Exeter Director of Rugby and match day manager at Exeter Chiefs, Keith Fleming said that “Sam was an outstanding player for the university and captained the side to BUCS Championship Victory at Twickenham in 2017. He has gone from strength to strength taking his opportunities when they came at Chiefs as an academy player and proving his quality over the years he had with us. To be a starting player for Exeter at a young age is a good indication into the standard of player that Sam is. He is setting a great example to all student athletes that want to perform exceptionally well in their academics and also balance their performance rugby.”
Post match Sam reflected on what he said was "the best moment of my life" representing Scotland on the international stage. From the interview Sam said that Scotland has always been a team that he has watched and supported throughout out his childhood, with 'Dad' being a proper Scot, it meant his loyalties were split between both Scotland and England.
Having played for the England U20s team the decision to pin his colours to Scotland's mast were described as follows "it was tough decision but also wasn't at all... To play at Murrayfield and represent Scotland in front of my family was an unmissable opportunity". "Scotland play a very similar style to Exeter and that excites me... being wanted by a team and told you are the sort of player they want, you just have to take that opportunity".
With the World Cup in Japan next year, performance and selection will be firmly on the minds of all coaches and players alike, when asked if this was a factor in the decision making, Sam reflected on what is around the corner "I think if you asked every player in the world if they would like to be in a world cup, of course they would, but for me it is just about playing the best rugby I can and focusing on that, boring I know, but if I do that then I put my hand up for selection..."
Sam was the only uncapped player in the Scotland squad at the weekend, starting alongside some of Scotland’s most formidable athletes such as British & Irish Lion Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland. Achieving a Man of the Match award was no charity decision on the young players first cap, but one that was reflective of a stand out performance, turning lineouts over, making 44m whilst carrying the ball 10 times in the game and not missing a tackle solidified Sam's international presence on the world stage.
With more and more players coming through the university and premiership pathway (Tom Lawday, Sam & Jack Maunder to name a few recently) we will be watching on to see who will be following in Sam’s footsteps and moving onto the highest level of rugby in the world.
You can watch Scotland v South Africa, BT Murrayfield (kick-off 5.20pm) live coverage on BBC 2.
Written by James Fleming
Sport Scholarship & Recruitment Officer
Date: 24 July 2018