Rudi Brown joins Rugby Club Vannes in French second tier

19-year-old was released from the Edinburgh academy without being offered a senior contract at the end of last season

Rudi Brown scored three tries for Scotland during last year's Under-20s Six Nations campaign. Image: © Craig Watson -
Rudi Brown scored three tries for Scotland during last year's Under-20s Six Nations campaign. Image: © Craig Watson -

SCOTLAND Under-20s back-row Rudi Brown, who was released from the Edinburgh Rugby academy at the end of last season after just one appearance for the senior team in March 2022, has signed for French Pro D2 side Vannes.

The 19-year-old was one of Scotland’s stand-out performers during their mixed-bag 2023 Under-20s Six Nations campaign and is currently preparing for the age-grade side’s Junior World Trophy campaign in Kenya at the end of this month. He played his domestic rugby with Southern Knights in the Super Series last season.

Brown is the third up-and-coming Scottish back-rower to move out of Scotland after leaving the academy system, with Rhys Tait and Archie Smeaton both signing for English Championship outfit Doncaster Knights last month having failed to win contracts with Glasgow Warriors. Harri Morris, who played in the back-row for Scotland Under-20s in 2021 before starting the process of converting to hooker, has also recently signed with Doncaster from the Edinburgh academy on a season long loan.

Brown is set to link up with Hamish Bain and Ewan Johnson (both former Scotland Under-20s second-rows) when he arrives in Brittany.

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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.


  1. Young fellow going to correct country for games and developing himself ,away from the goldfish bowl
    Melrose is awash with rumours that when Scottish rugby realised he was of to France ,a contract was offered with Edinburgh 3 months after telling him he wasn’t good enough
    If true a absolute disgrace
    The academy system is not fit for purpose

  2. It seems there is a little confusion around the academy set up. Let it be absolutely clear. We have no academy set up now. What we have is a ‘stable’ of young players hand picked by Kenny Murray whom it is apparent has a very narrow band with if knowledge when it comes to selecting and developing talent. , the empirical proof of that is evident in
    1. the players he omitted from his squad for the 6 nations and his Africa jaunt.
    2. The players he kicked of both Edinburgh and Warriors academies.
    3. His abject run of results so far.
    The English premiership clubs have their own academies, select and develop their own talent the England selectors then pick from a large pool. We don’t have that, we now have one guy who picks everyone and choses who who will play for Scotlands junior teams. And we all know how that has gone so far.
    The problem to me is a complete lack of transparency neither Edinburgh or Warriors explained to the public, clubs, or parents about the absolutely appalling decision to axe boys from the clubs. Which suggest they were presented with a keep your mouth shut or get out choice.
    I’ve now have no interest in Scottish rugby and the nepotistic twats who run it.

  3. The current Academy system is not fit for purpose from the U15 PDH right through to the U20s. And the system in place and who is running the show will get worse and we will go backwards over the next 5 years if it is not changed dramatically immediately. We will produce less and less players of the calibre needed to go professional and to become full internationalist.

  4. With the restricted funding available to the two Scottish Pro teams, & the limited spaces within these two teams’ squads, it can only be good for Scottish rugby when periphery pro players are able to continue their rugby career & development abroad. Even although this may only be in that country’s second division, they will still be able to develop, & if they’re good enough then new opportunities will certainly open up for them for progression. At least the SRU hasn’t restricted international call-ups of players plying their trade outside of Scotland.

    What is very concerning though, and a clear indication of the general failure of the SRU’s youth development/ pathway conveyor-belt, is the lack of high quality young players coming through into the pro game covering all positions. Yes, there’s a glut of scrum halves, flankers & hookers that have come through, but apart from this there’s not too much else to show (& yes, there’s some individual exceptions, but not on a regular basis). Does this indicate the SRU’s ‘blueprint’ & the coaches/ selectors focus is too narrow (or misplaced) for the early identification & development of kids suited for the other playing positions? I certainly believe so. The physical characteristics & skills sets required for a professional prop is certainly different to those of say a fullback, but unfortunately the SRU’s early pathway selection criteria is too focused on the back division skills set, which misses the nuances of other positional requirements, e.g. physicality/ strength/ size/ etc.

    • A few years back I was shocked that a 15 year old lad was dropped from the regional program before the match day squad stage. He was 6ft+, exceptionally quick (did athletics and was one of the fastest u16’s in Scotland), had good hands, and was a sound tackler. To many he was clearly a great prospect, but the selectors said ‘no’.

      Currently, I can think of several players outside of the u20 Academy set-up that are glaring omissions. To think of some of the lads that are in there, compared to some that aren’t, is actually quite scandalous.

  5. Calm down Septic9, dont be a sceptic! Scot Abroad’s cost expectation is accurate. Last financial year, the NET costs of running both Scottish ProTeams was “only” c£11 million! Ergo slightly more than £5 million per team, taking account of attributable revenues from all sources.

    Ok – now you are going to erupt through the usual furious red haze with a diatribe about running “another team properly”. And, know what – if we scrutinise variances from best practice at either end of the M8, many people might well agree with you, dear chap……

    That said, back to the main point – Rudi Brown is going to the right place for personal & rugby development purposes. We wish him well.

    • Link?
      Glasgow’s player budget when Dodson was appointed was raised to £5.1M. It hasn’t gone down. And that was just players, excluded coaches and all backroom staff, travel and accommodation costs and stadium running costs, etc ,£11M each would be near a bare minimum.

      • Page 33, 21/21 Financial Statements (Consolidated Income & Expenditure Account). Go figure, Sep…..

  6. Need a Rugby brain as well as brawn to make it to the top. Need to be coachable. So many factors need to align. Good luck.

  7. Good luck to Rudi I hope it goes well. As for the 20s there’s a simple fact that regardless of the system we simply don’t have players of the physical stature of other Nations. 19 yr Old 6.4in,23 stone rugby athletes are hard to find in Scotland.
    However kwithout doubt having a system that ditches players who are over 20 from Academies borders on lunacy.

    • Firstly I would like to wish Rudi all success in his detour to the top. Attitude, hard work, & perseverance will get him there, but it might take a bit longer than he hoped for.
      With regards to 6’4” 20+ stone athletes, these most certainly exist in Scotland but unfortunately the SRU district coaches/ selectors normally dismiss these kids when they’re young as they don’t meet the SRU’s naive ‘blueprint’ criteria, & they therefore become disillusioned with the SRU’s disinterest & favouritism, & they instead turn their attention to other sports/ activities. I’ve seen this happen far too often. The kids who will grow to large frame sizes when mature usually have poor power-to-weight ratios during their younger years, with the SRU selectors rejecting them due to this & instead choose youngsters who have matured early &/or already been on S&C programmes. This selection strategy may in part be due to the district age-grade coaches themselves being assessed by their management on how well their team performs, rather than the long-term potential of the players they’ve identified & are bringing through. Ultimately though this deficit of larger players coming through the system is of the SRU’s own doing & needs to be addressed.

  8. Well good luck to any of the U20’s in Kenya or those taking up the opportunities in France or elsewhere outside our Borders.
    One thing I would say is having viewed several ‘edited’ games in SA in the current U20’s top division I fear that there were few sides on offer that I could say with all honesty we would be competitive against, an exception being Wales perhaps who at times made a good fist of it against France, but virtually the entire game against 14 and getting shoved all over the place by a French pack a man short.
    There is something fundamentally wrong with the progression from Club to Professional rugby in Scotland somewhere along the line, the physicality of some of those teams, Italy, France in particular makes you wonder where our hopes are for season 2028, the French right wing dwarfed the Welsh and as for Tuilagi.
    Admittedly it was edited viewing but so many of the sides looked almost the finished product, listen to the clubs they are coming from, ask yourself the question, how would some of the so called super six sides stand up to the task in particular against the French.
    If this post suggests I am despondent, well I am, my only hope is that my assessment of the situation is wrong and that the SRU and others in the system have got my worries covered: hopefully.

  9. Great news for Brown. I thought it odd that one of the few bright sparks in an underperforming U20 Scotland team couldn’t get a contract at Edinburgh or Glasgow.
    However, his move to Vannes will likely accelerate his development due to the opportunity to play significantly more games than if he had stayed in Scotland.

  10. while he will be seeing Hamish Bain at Vannes, I think he has missed big Ewan Johnson who has joined newly promoted Oyonaxx this summer. Good moves for all of them hopefully.

  11. What an opportunity for the young lad, brave and out of his comfort zone as I believe there were other options.

    My Borders friends tell me he has been in France for some time and is NOT going to Kenya as rehabilitating an ankle injury.

    Why are Scottish rugby backing a complete under 20s academy? It takes years to develop into a pro rugby player not 1 season.

    Good luck to Brown, Scotland’s loss is France’s gain.

  12. Great news and good luck to him. Absolutely nothing wrong with a young man moving abroad to hopefully get regular rugby at a very good level and out of his comfort zone. Far more cost effective for Scottish rugby than trying to fund another professional side at a net cost of £5 million plus per season. For me that would “feel wrong”. There is of course a legitimate question over whether he should have been awarded a contract at one of our existing pro sides ahead of a non Scottish qualified player.

      • Note the prefix “net” cost Septic. A figure merely based on the approximate loss that our existing Pro teams run at. Of course, a new franchise may well run a higher net loss to the union, which is the point I was making.

    • Quite correct, Scottie! (I have posted full details of last year’s Pro Team NET costs from SRU 21-22 financial statements to help Seppy along the route to enlightenment. Currently blocked, undergoing scrutiny in TOL’s moderation department.)

  13. There really must be something wrong with a system that can’t continually develop these U20s players into the proteams. I know the arguments against a 3rd proteam but this just feels wrong.


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