Academy talent Fraser Gillies goes to Paris after Scotland snub

EDINBURGH Academy's talented stand-off, Fraser Gillies, overlooked by the Scotland Under-18 selectors, will play his rugby in France next season after securing a contract with the Paris club, Racing Metro 92.

The omission of Gillies in the Scotland Under-18 squad for the warm-up matches and the Five Nations Festival was a surprise to many observers of the game, the Academy fly-half having been the outstanding schoolboy player over the season and having captained the successful Scotland team at under-17 level last year, and then this year having led his school team to success in the Brewin Dolphin Cup.

That is all now behind Gillies, who can look forward to a productive year, combining learning French and playing rugby in a first-class environment alongside players such as Sebastian Chabal and the Puma fly World Cup half Juan Martin Hernandez.

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Gillies, who is still only 17, had trials recently with both Racing Metro and Perpignan but opted for the Paris club after talking to several Scottish players with experience of French rugby.

"I was able to phone Chris Cusiter and he gave me very helpful advice" said Gillies, who will join Racing Metro on 1 August on an Academy contract.

"There is a six week pre-season training period before we play any games," revealed Gillies. "We train every day except Saturday and play our games on Sundays.

"But in the mornings it will be study. Under French regulations if you're aged between 17 and 23, you have to be in education or training. I'll be taking French classes initially at the Alliance Francaise and then at the Sorbonne."

Reflecting on missing out on Scotland Under-18 selection Gillies said: "It was a huge disappointment at the time, but I dealt with it quickly and I realised there are other ways of making the grade.

"The bonus was that I had a great few weeks playing sevens."

Edinburgh Academy coach Mark Appleson believes Gillies will prosper in Paris. He said: "Fraser's work rate in training and his desire to improve all the time were amazing. He'll go into next season on a real high. It's an ideal scenario for him."