Five Forwards Graduate from FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy to Professional Contracts at Glasgow Warriors
Four FOSORC Scottish Rugby Contracted Academy players from the 2021-2022 intake last summer have today graduated to full-time professional contracts with Glasgow Warriors.
Gregor Brown, Alex Samuel, Max Williamson and Angus Fraser join Murphy Walker in making the step up to the full-time professional Glasgow Warriors squad for the 2022-2023 season from the FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy this year.
The five forwards were part of the 15-Contracted Academy players aligned to Glasgow Warriors in the 2021-2022 season, with a further 15-Contracted Academy players at Edinburgh.
All five players have previously represented Scotland U20 with both second-rows Williamson and Samuel still eligible for the age-grade international side.
More recently the four players who have graduated today have been making an impact in the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series which kicked-off last month, Gregor Brown is aligned to Boroughmuir Bears, Max Williamson and Angus Fraser to Stirling County and Alex Samuel to Ayrshire Bulls.
An abrasive carrier in the back-row, Aberdeen-born Brown has agreed his first professional contract 14-months on from his introduction to life at Glasgow Warriors.
The 20-year-old made his debut for Glasgow Warriors when coming off the bench against Leinster at the RDS back in February 2021.
A first start followed the following week against Zebre Parma, before a serious knee injury sidelined the former Scotland U20 star for over a year.
Having completed his rehab under the care of the medical and strength and conditioning teams at Scotstoun, Brown made his return in the opening match of the 2022 FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series, and has represented Boroughmuir Bears three times in the competition to date.
A product of Robert Gordon’s College, the back-rower also spent time in both Nigeria and Egypt during his childhood.
Brown saidL “To sign a professional deal with this team is such a cool feeling.
“Glasgow Warriors have been my team ever since I was a kid – dad and I would come down from Aberdeen to come to Scotstoun and watch the games, and to make my debut last season was just an incredible moment. To sign my first contract, it’s hard to put into word just how much this means.
“In a strange way, getting injured in my second game made me even more determined to push on. Getting a taste of pro rugby, alongside guys I’d watched growing up, made me want even more.
“I’m back fit and firing, and I want to say a massive thank you to all of the medical team and all of the boys here – the rehab’s been a slog at times, but they’ve all made it so much more enjoyable!
“Getting the chance to play at Scotstoun in front of a full house would be mental. I honestly can’t wait to get out there.”
One of the standout performers of the FOSROC Super6 Sprint Series so far, second-rower Samuel has shown spectators across Scotland exactly why he is such a highly rated prospect for both club and country.
Standing at 6’9 and weighing in at 115kg, the man from Madras’ form has seen him rewarded with two FOSROC Super6 Player of the Match awards from his three outings for Ayrshire Bulls to date in the competition.
Samuel’s leadership skills saw him named as Scotland U20 captain for the 2021 Under-20 Six Nations, leading the side in all five matches at Cardiff Arms Park.
A powerful ball-carrier and confident set-piece caller, he was invited to train with the senior Scotland squad as an apprentice during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.
Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Danny Wilson has been a keen admirer of the University of Strathclyde student’s ability, name-checking the second-rower as one to watch during an online Glasgow Warriors Members event.
Samuel said: “It’s a great feeling to sign my first professional deal.
“I used to watch the club on BBC ALBA on a Friday night growing up, so to get the chance to represent this club is just amazing.
“Getting to come in here and develop my game with guys like Rob Harley and Richie Gray has been a massive thing for me, and I’ve loved being in and around the senior squad so far. Hopefully the next step is now to push on and challenge for a place in the matchday squad.
“I’m looking forward to running out in front of the Warrior Nation, and I’ll be looking to bring my physicality and a lot of energy every time I’m selected.”
Having first linked up with Glasgow Warriors as part of the 2020/21 FOSROC Scottish Rugby Academy intake, 19-year-old Williamson now graduates into the senior ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.
Born in Glasgow, the University of Strathclyde student came through the ranks at Stirling County, having started out at the Bridgehaugh side at the age of five.
He has since gone on to represent County in the FOSROC Super6, impressing with both his dynamic carrying in the loose as well as his work at the set-piece.
Williamson has been an ever-present in the engine room for Scotland U20 since breaking into the squad in 2021, playing 10 successive matches for Kenny Murray’s side.
Like Samuel, he was invited to train with the senior Scotland squad as an apprentice during the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, before representing Glasgow Warriors in the 2021 The Famous Grouse Pre-Season Challenge against Newcastle Falcons.
He was recently included in the 32-man Glasgow Warriors squad that travelled to South Africa for the United Rugby Championship double-header, providing cover in the engine room.
Williamson said: “It means a lot signing for the club I supported growing up.
“From watching them play on a Friday night when I was younger to being able to go into the environment and be a part of the squad, that’s a really exciting feeling.
“It’s been a great experience being involved with the main squad this season and I feel like it’s helped improve my game a lot as a player and become part of the group.
“I’m looking forward at continuing to work on my game over the next year to try and get an opportunity and take it.”
Dundonian hooker Fraser completes the quartet of academy graduates today, the 22-year-old joining fellow former Dundee Eagle and childhood friend Murphy Walker in agreeing professional terms with Glasgow Warriors.
The front-rower is a former recipient of the prestigious Macphail Scholarship, spending a year at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa to further his development as part of the Scottish Rugby programme.
A former Scotland U18 and U20 representative, Fraser has most recently turned out for Stirling County, first in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 and then in this year’s Sprint Series.
He follows former Scotland U20 team-mates Ross Thompson, Ollie Smith and Rufus McLean – in addition to Walker – in turning professional in recent seasons, and has been involved with the Warriors as 24th man on matchdays across the 2021/22 season.
Fraser said: “I was ecstatic when I got offered the deal.
“I’ve absolutely loved my three years in the academy here, and to finally get the chance to be a professional athlete and a Glasgow Warrior is one of those real dream come true moments. I’m absolutely chuffed.
“Playing in the FOSROC Super6 has given me that next step in my development – it really helped bridge the gap between U20 and adult rugby, so that’s been invaluable for me.
“I’ve been in and around the boys on a matchday so it’s given me a taste of what game nights are like here at Scotstoun. To get the chance to pull on the Glasgow shirt and run out in front of a packed house here, that’d mean the world. The crowd here is so good, it’d be a massive moment for both myself and my family.”
Walker became the 334th player to represent Glasgow Warriors back in October 2021, coming off the bench in a 35-24 victory over the Cell C Sharks at Scotstoun before retaining his spot in the matchday 23 for the win over the Emirates Lions a week later.
Walker also impressed in the 2021 FOSROC Super6 for Stirling County, making four appearances for the Bridgehaugh outfit and crossing for a try against Watsonians.
A product of Dundee Eagles, the prop captained a Strathallan School side containing future Glasgow team-mate Smith and coached by Warriors centurion Ed Kalman to a 2018 Schools Cup victory over Glenalmond College.
Walker is also the nephew of former Glasgow Warriors and Scotland U20 Head Coach Sean Lineen, and represented his country at the 2018 and 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship.
Walker said: I’m delighted to sign my first pro deal with the club.
“It’s been such a big thing I’ve aimed towards these last 18 months. I’ve had some obstacles to overcome with my hamstring injury and for me to achieve this goal it’s been unbelievable. I’m proud to get the chance to continue to play for this club and to represent my family and my little village of Longforgan.
“Being a Glasgow Warrior means a lot, not only to me but my family too. My parents have been behind me since day one. My dad took me to Dundee Eagles when I was a wee kid just to have fun. I never expected to be here and to be making a career out of playing rugby.
“We have a great group of guys here at the club who are always driving each other forward. Zander and Oli have been massive for my progress at scrum time and Fraser worked with me a lot while I was injured on my skills and set-piece. Having guys like that to learn from is amazing.
“I don’t think anything changes now I’m a full-time professional. I’ve been given this opportunity because of the work I’ve been putting in and I’m going to continue to train as hard as I can every day to stake a claim for a place in the match day 23.”