Last night Edinburgh’s hero Tim Visser scored his 13th try of the season to claim the record for most tries scored in a single Magners League season. Andy Robinson must be checking off the days ‘til this lad is available for Scotland.
A former sevens specialist at the Newcastle Falcons, ‘The Flying Dutchman’ has been in scintillating form since mooring in Edinburgh. In his first season he was named Magners’ Young Player of the Season and scored 10 tries. This year he has broken the individual try record and looks set to continue dotting down. Things are looking up for Tim.
This record is outstanding for several reasons, as well.
I am not talking about the fact that Visser is the first Dutch-born professional rugby player (incidently he isn’t the first Dutch representative to be pro as Dundee HSFP scrum coach and former Dutch cap, JJ Van Der Esch, was full time with West Hartlepool in the Allied Dunbar Premiership as well as being pro in Italy. He was born in NZ, though…). I am actually talking about how he was signed.
Edinburgh signed him from Newcastle after a season where he had started 11 league games. He had done well, if unspectacularly, only scoring 3 times in that league. Physically he had all the attributes, but being Dutch, young and less than prolific at that time Edinburgh would have signed him for a more modest wage packet. Even with Premiership and European experience.
The gamble paid off. Big time. He found his rhythm in the Celtic matches and regular rugby meant he could utilise his pace and size. He now scores tries for fun.
Although his recent contract extension would have included a step-up in wages (as well as meaning he will be in the country and eligible for Scotland) his original signing showed that cheaper options that the Premiership and France had given up on could still pay off. This becomes increasingly significant as Edinburgh shed players and tighten their belt.
Of course there is another reason to take note of Visser’s meteoric rise. That reason being that he will be a newly-eligible Scotsman, ‘Flying’ or otherwise.
I am going to treat Visser as a convert. This is important because it gives us context. Other ‘converts’ like Tongan Vainikolo and Andy Farrell came to International rugby in a blaze of publicity and swagger but quickly exited with battered egos. The great Serevi played for Leicester but couldn’t cope with the 15-a-side game. In fact, only Chris Ashton has come to a new sport or country and excelled in an international environment.
Don’t get me wrong, Visser was built for Union. He has proven that he was not a one-season-wonder and has continued to cross the try-line. He will certainly not have the same media scrutiny as an Ashton or a Vainikolo but the Dutchman is comfortable in the 15-a-side game and incredibly comfortable in Scotland. He has shown us what time spent on the 7s circuit does for your skills and he has repaid the faith when someone took a chance on him after he was released down South.
We will have to wait to see how he does with a Thistle on his chest and with 5 other nations glowering at him, but if he can score a record amount of tries for a floundering Edinburgh side just imagine what he could do for Scotland. Pass to ‘Dutchie’ on the left hand side, indeed…