THERE is a strange irony in the fact Ian McInroy will this afternoon play at Twickenham, in front of a crowd of around 60,000, having recently accepted that he will never play rugby at the highest level.
McInroy is the only Scot in this year’s Varsity Match (kick-off 2pm), where he will take the field for MMC Trophy holders Cambridge University after recently beginning a three-year BA in Economics. A promising Scotland Under-21 international who moved straight into professional rugby, McInroy was released by Glasgow in the summer and decided to turn his back on the pro game.
"I just got to the point where I couldn’t run or practise anymore with no game at the end of the week," he admitted. "I played well in my first season as a pro, but things just didn’t go for me after that. The system in Scotland was a major problem because as I wasn’t a first-year professional I couldn’t even play for my club, so I just trained every day, as I was paid to do.
"My one saviour was the Scotland sevens squad, which gave me something to work for. I was shocked to hear Roy Laidlaw has left Murrayfield because he was great, and the sevens are fantastic, especially for bringing on younger players.
"But, I’ll be 25 next month, and I had to make a decision in the summer. I had a couple of offers, from England and France, but I had played an invitation game at Cambridge last Christmas and spoke to Stuart Moffat, who was here before he joined Glasgow, and he just raved about the set-up, so I thought this might be the answer."
While sitting on the sidelines, McInroy took up work experience with Argyll Investments in Edinburgh and he is keen to repay their faith in him when his degree is completed. He added: "My aim was always to play for my country at Murrayfield and I have come to terms with the fact that that is no longer a realistic target for me. After two years of my life standing still, it’s time to move on.
"It is strange that now I have," he laughed, "I’m going to be playing in front of the biggest crowd of my life, but it’s great. There will be a terrific atmosphere with the England squad parading the World Cup, but, I’m just very excited about throwing myself into university life and enjoying my rugby again, and just feeling I’m achieving something in my life again."