‘SRU had their chances to get Tommy Allan on books’

Tommy Allan, after starring for Scotland's U-20s, could soon be turning out for Italy after SRU bosses failed to secure his long-term future. Picture: SNS
Tommy Allan, after starring for Scotland's U-20s, could soon be turning out for Italy after SRU bosses failed to secure his long-term future. Picture: SNS
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It WAS the law of unintended consequences. Tommy Allan imagined that he was accepting an invitation to join Italy’s autumn training squad when they get together on 20 September.

Instead it turned out that he had kicked over a hornet’s nest.

When they heard the news last Tuesday, the Scottish Rugby Union insisted that they had spoken to the dual-qualified Perpignan player as recently as five days earlier and they leapt in to action, contacting Allan in the hope that they might yet change his mind and throw in his lot with Scotland. It seems a forlorn hope although until he has been capped the youngster is free to choose.

Allan qualifies for Italy thanks to the fact that he was born in Vicenza to an Italian mother, Paola, when his Scottish father William was living and playing rugby in Italy.

His father William spoke last week about the stress that Junior has suffered in the whirlwind of publicity that followed his call-up for Italy. He also raged about some of the inaccuracies that had been written about Tommy, who has been capped by Scotland at under-20 level. In an effort to set the record straight he has gone public.

“When Tommy finished school in 2011, we were looking at all the options open to him. Tommy had applied to numerous universities in the UK including Edinburgh University. At that time we also met up with the Scotland representatives who invited Tommy and myself up to Murryfield for talks. They offered Tommy an EPDM [apprentice] contract and they wanted to develop Tommy through the Rugby 7s pathway.”

The trouble was that Tommy didn’t end up at Edinburgh University and he wanted to concentrate on 15s rather than the short game. In more recent years, father William explains that neither Edinburgh or Glasgow showed any interest in signing the stand-off despite his agent contacting the SRU’s head of recruitment, Sean Lineen.

“After the final game at the JWC [Junior World Cup in 2013] I asked Sean Lineen directly if he was happy that Tommy had signed for Perpignan,” says William. “When he said no and that it would have been better for Tommy to play in Scotland I mentioned that no one had ever come forward to make any offer. He said he was surprised by this.

“Knowing that Italy were keeping a close tab on Tommy, I asked Tommy’s agent to make contact with Scotland directly and ask them what their plans were for the future of Tommy.

“His agent sent an e-mail to Sean Lineen on 15 August asking what their plans were for Tommy and he followed this up by talking to Sean directly that same day. Sean made it very clear that, although they thought Tommy has great potential, there was no professional contract on offer at either Edinburgh or Glasgow and they were simply just going to keep an eye on Tommy down in Perpignan.”

It appears that the SRU had their chances to get Tommy on their books but they decided not to act.

William points out that his son is currently earning peanuts on an “Espoir” (academy) contract at Perpignan but he is hopeful that the French club will offer his boy a senior deal in the coming months.

“I am a proud Scot, I was born in Scotland, I got married in a kilt and I still support Scotland,” says William Allan. Maybe not if they happen to be playing against an Italian side featuring his son Tommaso.