Up-and-coming Scottish talent Bruce Sorbie is ready to kick on during the 2017/18 season after he spent a great few months playing in South Africa.
Bruce embarked on a five-month rugby scholarship to the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport in South Africa’s Western Cape in early January.
The initial period of the programme focused on his individual and position-specific development before he teamed up with fellow academy players for matches against other academies and age-grade sides in South Africa.
The Stellenbosch scholarship is the second international exchange undertaken by Scottish Rugby and seeks to build on the success of the John Macphail Rugby Scholarship, which has sent young and upcoming rugby prospects to New Zealand every year for more than a decade.
“It all happened pretty quickly,” the 19-year-old full-back or wing explained.
“I was getting ready to try and push for selection for the uner-20s around Christmas time when I heard that I had been selected for the scholarship.
“Obviously on one hand I was a bit gutted to miss the 6 Nations and then the subsequent World Rugby Championships with the under-20s, but I had always played in Scotland and I knew that the level of rugby in South Africa would be very high so I wanted to go out there and test myself and then come back a better player.”
When he arrived in South Africa in January, Bruce soon felt at home in the set-up with other foreign players and locals making him feel welcome.
In the early stages he was left in no doubt as to how hard the training would be with sessions before breakfast and a couple more later in the day.
It was like a mini-pre-season and Bruce said: “As I was coming off of a half season in the BT Premiership I was pretty fit going into that block of work, but boy was I fit when it finished!
“We were worked pretty hard and pretty knackered by the end of the days, but we could certainly see the benefits and we soon got together a good team spirit and we were ready to play matches together.
“The training was a bit different than what I was used to before, but I found it beneficial and felt I had added a few more things to my game.”
When the matches came Bruce found them pretty open affairs and as an attacking full-back that suited him.
During his stay Bruce also had a couple of weeks ‘down time’ and with Stellenbosch being around a 45 minute drive from Cape Town he was able to tick off some of the tourist boxes and see some of the magnificent country.
“I have some great memories to take away from the trip and I really want to use what I learned to kick on with Stirling County, in the academy and try and force my way into the picture with the Warriors if I can.
“I will be training with the Warriors a bit in pre-season and it is always good to be around the internationalists and learn from them while with the new coaching set-up there it is exciting times.
“There is no getting ahead of myself though, I am just going to get my head down and work hard in the next few months with a spring in my step remember all I experienced in South Africa.
“It is a great scholarship and hopefully it continues going forward because as a youngster it is always good to head out of your comfort zone.”
Bruce, an age-grade cap, took up the sport at Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen before embarking on his club career with Aberdeenshire in 2014 and moving to GHA a year later to accompany his study at Glasgow University.
He has been a member of the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy for a number of years, moving from the regional Caledonia to Glasgow set-up when he relocated to the central belt for study.
After one year, he opted to put his studies on hold to pursue a career in the sport, joining BT Premiership side Stirling County last September.
He is now a stage two player in Glasgow & the West.
What is the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport?
Stellenbosch Academy is a purpose-built facility with indoor and outdoor pitches, a performance gym, pool, classrooms, catering, medical and accommodation all on site, and is currently home to the South Africa Sevens) men’s and women’s sides, as well as the Western Province Rugby Institute.
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