The journey to professional rugby can be a treacherous one for youngsters trying to break through, but Rory McMichael will take it to new horizons next season by trying his luck in Japan.
Since being told there was no room for him in the London Irish academy next season, the Wellington College centre has been planning his next move and Asia has emerged as his destination.
Once his exams are over, he will move to China to do some teaching before heading to Japan with the hope of getting his first taste of senior rugby with champions Suntory before returning to Scotland.
“London Irish told me a couple of months ago they weren’t going to give me a contract to join their academy but I’m hoping to play in Japan next season,” he told The Rugby Paper.
“I’m going on a gap year to China for five months. I’ll be done in December so I’ll head to Japan after that.
“One of my friends works for Suntory and he’s given me the contact details of their manager. I’ll get in touch and see if I can get in their squad. I’m not sure how likely it is to come off but I’ll see.
“It might not be the same level as the Premiership or the Pro12 but there are a lot of very good players and it could be a perfect step up to senior rugby for me.
“It’s pretty much the top league or nothing in Japan so if it doesn’t work out I’ll come back to Scotland and play for a club before I go to Edinburgh University the following year.
“After that I’ll be looking to break into the Scotland U20s squad and maybe joining one of the two Pro12 teams.”
Eligible to wear the thistle on his chest through his Scottish mother, McMichael was picked up at U16s level and he made his debut at the annual Wellington Festival two years ago.
He moved up to the U18s squad last season and he has been involved in the International Series in Wales this week.
A defeat to Wales in the opening game was bettered by a win over Italy on Wednesday and McMichael is now looking to end on a high against England today.
He said: “I had a trial with Scotland U16s when I was 15 and that’s how it started really. I didn’t get in being a year young but I played the following year and I’ve been playing for the U18s for two years now.
“My mother is really happy I’m playing for Scotland and my heart is set on playing for them. Rugby was never something I’d considered but Scotland gave me the opportunity to play at international level.
“That’s how I got to play for Harlequins and Irish in the past two seasons. I owe them a lot and I have to give something back.
“The Series has gone ok so far. We’ve lost one game and won one so hopefully we can put in a good performance against England. “There are a few players from Wellington and London Irish so it’ll be good to face them.”