FORMER Edinburgh stand-off Piers Francis has been called into the England squad to tour Argentina this summer.
Francis was born in Gravesend, Kent, and was a member of the Saracens Academy for three years during his teens before moving to New Zealand at the age of 18 and playing ITM Cup rugby for both Auckland and Waikato.
He returned to the UK in 2012 and had two rather unspectacular seasons in the Scottish capital during which time he played 15 matches and scored 33 points. He missed most of his second season at the club with a knee injury, before being deemed surplus to requirements by then head coach Alan Solomons at the end of the campaign.
Francis then played seven games for Doncaster Knights in the English Championship before returning to New Zealand on a two-year contract with a Counties Manukau side coached by former All black captain Tana Umaga. He was signed up on a two-year deal with Super Rugby franchise the Blues in 2016, winning Rookie of the Year in his debut season at that level.
The 26-year-old is due to return to England next season when he will hook up with Northampton Saints.
Francis is one of 15 uncapped players in the 31-man squad named by Eddie Jones this morning [Thursday] for England’s trip to South America.
Edinburgh fans will take little satisfaction in the small role their club played in Francis’ development. They have endured a torrid season during which an inexperienced backline has struggled for confidence and cohesion.
During Solomons’ tenure at Edinburgh, between 2013 and 2016, a number of key players were allowed (and some even encouraged) to walk away from the club, including the following backline –
- Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester/ – 58 caps for Scotland – current national team captain)
- Piers Francis (Blues/Northampton Saints – England tourist this summer)
- Tim Visser (Harlequins – 31 caps for Scotland)
- Matt Scott (Gloucester – 37 caps for Scotland)
- Nick De Luca (Wasps/retiring this summer – 43 caps for Scotland)
- Lee Jones (Glasgow Warriors – 4 caps)
- Greig Tonks (London Irish – 6 caps for Scotland)
Grayson Hart (Glasgow Warriors – moving to Ealing Trailfinders – 3 caps for Scotland)
Dougie Fife (Scotland Sevens – 6 caps for Scotland)
A few of those characters might have helped steady the ship in recent months.