Rugby: Visser told to ditch orange for dark blue

Published Date: 09 March 2010


A FORMER Dutch international rugby player now living in Edinburgh is urging countryman and current Capital sensation Tim Visser to commit his representative future to Scotland.

Winger Visser, whose abilities were thrust into the spotlight by becoming the first Edinburgh player to notch a hat-trick of Magners Celtic League tries in the 33-17 home win over Ospreys on Sunday, would be eligible for Scotland on residency grounds in 2012. While Visser, 22, is keeping options open, Michiel Smith, 37, who gained caps for The Netherlands against Morocco and Georgia before moving to Edinburgh with his Scottish-born wife, Fiona, five years ago, says the Dutch would be proud to have a player like Visser playing at the highest level.

“I think Tim would actually be making a greater contribution to Dutch rugby by qualifying for Scotland and getting selected to play in the Six Nations rather than returning home for caps.

“There is an intensive development programme underway in Holland and the youngsters now being attracted into the game would see that it is possible to go all the way to the top.

|Equally important, though, is the possibility of players being able to return from the top playing nations late in their careers to help the aspiring ones.” Smith owns a guest house but also finds time to coach Edinburgh Northern in Division One of the East League.

“I understand the move to allow players to drop down a level and continue to play internationally mainly concerns the likes of Pacific islanders attached to New Zealand and Australia but it would also work well for the likes of Holland if adopted.

“Meantime I would advise Tim to opt for Scotland if he gets the opportunity. Nobody in Holland would think badly of him, especially if there was a chance he could return one day.”

The hat-trick by 6ft 4in and 16st 9lb Visser was achieved after coming off the bench in the 15th minute for rib injury victim Simon Webster and has rocketed him to the top of the league’s individual try-scoring charts with six for the season so far. He also touched down against Ulster in the Heineken European Cup.

Smith added: “As things stand the Dutch media are already homing in on what he does with Edinburgh. My brother-in-law is a television producer and he has been organising interviews which are helping to broaden the base of interest which is much needed.

“A few years ago Holland were playing the likes of Romania and Georgia in knocking on the door of further recognition but relegation from the second tier of European rugby has set things back.”

Smith, whose playing career was ended by a neck injury sustained against Georgia in Tblisi, regularly turned out in the back row alongside Visser’s father at the Hague club. “I watched Tim’s hat-trick and he certainly took his opportunities well.”

The Netherlands have dropped to 34 in the latest IRB world rankings behind the likes of Brazil and Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, Ospreys coach Sean Holley has heaped praise on an Edinburgh side who claimed a try bonus point for only the second time this season, saying: “We cannot take anything away from Edinburgh. We had no territory in the first half and, although we defended well, the scoreboard meant we chased the game a bit too early and gifted Edinburgh some easy tries from turnovers in their half.

“All credit to the opposition for finishing them well. To concede three tries in seven second-half minutes was a killer blow and, although we got into our stride in the last 20 minutes we left ourselves too much to do.”