By Mike Donlan
There is no better experience for a young rugby player than packing his bags for pastures new in a foreign land.
The chance to experience a new lifestyle, culture, language and style of rugby can shape you as a person, not just a player.
As a student back in 2010, yours truly decided it was time for such an enriching experience.
I was an Erasmus student heading to the picturesque town of Aix-en-Provence in Southern France, and as a national league player in the UK I had ambitions to play rugby at a high level.
I left it with my coach to help me find a club as he claimed to have a bulging contacts book, I never saw that contacts book – maybe his ego ate it.
Anyway, I soon realised I was going to have to find a club myself which meant putting the first two years of my French degree to use – considering my first two years consisted of playing rugby, chinning pints and dodging lectures, this proved to be quite challenging initially.
My first thought was to try Marseille who had a certain Jonah Lomu on their teamsheet, and in a slightly masochistic way, the chance to claim fame by being turned into a doormat like Mike Catt in 1995 was just too irresistible.
Unfortunately that twisted fantasy never materialised into anything substantial – it turned that they didn’t need another average back row – but my fishing line finally got a nibble when I contacted Pays d’Aix (now Provence Rugby) who were a Pro D2 side.
In the end, I played for their u21 and u23 sides competing against some of the top teams in France in those age groups, including the likes of Toulon, Montpelier and Perpignan.
I have plenty of amusing anecdotes from that year which I won’t bore you with, but my point from all this was that even just six years ago, the challenge of finding a club abroad was daunting for any young, ambitious rugby player.
That’s why a platform like Sporple is so important, what I would have given to have the chance to showcase my talent to agents and clubs in France on such a user-friendly platform, who knows what opportunities could have come my way!
Young South African flanker Devon van Dyk is someone who has enjoyed the benefits of Sporple taking away the initial pain of trying to get your name into the open.
“I think Sporple gives you the opportunity to play abroad”, he said.
“It gave me the opportunity to put everything I’ve done out there on the web, they’ve given me hope in making my dreams come true one day .
“I’ve seen sites for rugby players to put up videos, but of all the sites I’ve tried Sporple is the best, I get to showcase myself to the world ”.
Get signed up today, and kick start your route to playing in different parts of the world.