EDINBURGH have confirmed they have signed Connor Boyle, Rory Darge and Sam Grahamslaw subject to medicals. Head coach Richard Cockerill first said in early May that the three Scotland Under-20 caps would be joining his squad, but official confirmation was delayed as a consequence of the lockdown.
“It’s absolutely amazing to sign my first professional contract with my home club,” said 20-year-old Boyle, a back-row forward who played for Watsonians in Super6 earlier this season and is a former captain of the U20s. “I used to have a season ticket here, so to sign a contract for the team I used to come watch on Friday nights is a dream come true.
“Being around one of the most competitive back rows in world rugby allows you to learn so much, so I’m happy to have joined at this stage of my career. I’m still young, but I understand with the schedule ahead there will be a lot of opportunity for us to show what we’re about. Cockers always says if you know your stuff and you’re good enough, you can play. I just have to be patient and be ready when the time comes.”
Darge, also now 20, succeeded Boyle in captaining the U20s, also plays in the back row and has been part of the Southern Knights squad. “I’m delighted to sign my first professional contract with Edinburgh Rugby,” he said. “Edinburgh is a club that works hard and I’ve been lucky enough to come in and train with the first XV squad this season, which stands me in good stead for transitioning into my first professional contract. It’s an exciting time to join Edinburgh. I hope to get my chance to represent the club and take those opportunities by playing well.”
Grahamslaw, who moved to prop after also playing in the back row earlier in his career, came up through the ranks at Leicester Tigers, Cockerill’s old club, before joining Boyle and Darge in the Scottish academy system. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given here at Edinburgh and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and proving myself,” said the 21-year-old, who was a colleague of Boyle’s at Watsonians during the inaugural Super6 campaign. “It’s a brilliant environment and I’m looking to learn as much as I can from the players and coaches around me, especially the experienced front-rowers at the club.”
The trio’s chances of playing much first-team rugby in the coming season may well depend on what the international calendar looks like and how often Edinburgh’s senior players are absent on Scotland duty, but Cockerill is in no doubt that when they get their opportunity, they will take it. “We’re really excited to work with all three players and it’s just reward for their hard work and effort that they now pen pro deals with the club,” he said.
“We know Rory and Connor extremely well, having seen them progress through the age-grade system and now at Super6 level. They are two back-rows with differing styles, but they both have a huge amount of potential to go far in this game.
“Sam is obviously a player that Scottish Rugby identified while he was at Leicester Tigers and he’s a prop with great physicality and ability in the loose. All three players have impressed at Super6 level and we’re looking forward to seeing them make the step-up this coming season.”
Meanwhile, former Edinburgh stand-off Simon Hickey has signed a two-year deal with the Hurricanes in his native New Zealand. Hickey left the capital when his contract expired last month, but Cockerill has so far been unable to secure a replacement 10 after Jono Lance failed to be granted a visa. As things stand, budgetary restrictions look likely to rule out a new signing between now and the resumption of play at the end of August.