Toby Thame claimed a brace of scores as Northampton Saints secured their first win of the season against Cambridge Rugby on Saturday, and the centre admits he is delighted with the opportunities coming his way in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
All of the 19-year-old’s four appearances in Black, Green and Gold have come in the Cup competition so far, and Thame added his first points in a Saints shirt in the 55-5 win against Cambridge, crossing the whitewash twice in as many minutes.
And Thame credits taking to the field with his Saints Academy teammates, such as Henry Pollock and Archie McParland, for helping his transition into senior rugby run smoothly and helping his feel at home in the No. 12 shirt.
“Saints do a great job of bringing boys up from the Academy”, Thame said. “I’ve been with the boys who are playing around me now for five plus years, and it's just so much better in the heat of the moment when you know you've got a teammate there on your shoulder because you've known him for so long.
“It was nice to be out there. I feel like last year I had a couple of cup games, and I was just building into it because it's the first couple of games of men's rugby.
“It's completely different pace, but now I've had a year under my belt in the Academy feeling comfortable and having good relationships with the boys outside me, I've loved every minute of it.”Toby Thame
On scoring his first points in a Saints shirt Thame added: “I couldn't believe it. I'll give credit to the men who passed me the ball, but it’s always good fun getting up and celebrating with the lads and having a couple of beers with them after.”
And Thame isn’t the first of his family to pull on the Black, Green and Gold jersey, with Dad, John, having made 115 appearances in the 90s and scoring 23 tries to boot.
“He made over 100 appearances so it’s hard to get out of his shadow sometimes,” Thame continued. “But it’s always special to run out at the Gardens; there's an honours board just inside the tunnel and Dad’s name on it. So when I walk past that and see his name, I’m reminded of the work he put in to make me a rugby player and what he's done in the shirt before me.
“I go out there to try and make him proud. It's nice to have that history before me. I didn't get to see him play unfortunately. He had a couple of knee problems out playing sevens with the Saints, so I never got to watch him play.
“But I used to spend many, many years on the beaches of Cornwall or whatever, passing the rugby ball around with him.”