Former St Joseph’s College pupil wins professional deal with French club Beziers

Cameron Ives

Cameron Ives - Credit: Archant

Former St Joseph’s College pupil and ex-Colchester RFC youngster Cameron Ives has been snapped up by French Pro D2 side Beziers.

The outside centre or full-back has penned a two-year deal with the southern France-based club, who play a level below the country’s elite competition, the Pro-14.

The 18-year-old will start his career playing for Beziers’ second team in the under-23 league but has high hopes of progressing up the ladder.

“It’s always something I have wanted to do, (former St Jo’s pupils) Karl Wilkins has gone to Clermont and Dan Lewis is doing well at Oyonnax, and I will be doing the job I love, it’s amazing,” said Ives.

“Beziers are a huge club with a massive history and they have won the Pro-14 11 times in their history.

“From what I have seen, the town is totally geared around the rugby team, the stadium is huge and the director of Rugby, Manny Edmonds, has a great vision for the club and plays rugby the way I like to play it.”

Ives had a few offers to stay in England and play in the Championship, but the former Northampton Saints youngster revealed there was only one destination on his mind.

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“The rugby is more intense out there, like football in this country, they are mad for the sport and hopefully it will allow me to develop my game better,” he added.

“I am very anxious about the language barrier and there will be times when I am physically drained and might not have as many friends around me, but this is something I have pursued all my life, to play professionally – whether that be at football or rugby – so it’s a challenge I can’t wait for.”

Beziers finished 11th in last season’s table and will be hoping for better fortunes this time around, but Ives admits he faces a tough path to get to the first team.

“There will be players from the academy trying to get in the second team and those in the second will want to make the first team, I would imagine there are two or three players for every position,” Ives explained.

“My aim is to possibly make the first team in three years time which is optimistic at the moment, but playing for the second team will give me exposure and hopefully help me in later years to progress.

“My long-term goal is to stay five or six years then return to England a better all-round player and have another shot at the domestic game.”

Ives made the decision to quit Northampton last year, following his recovery from a serious injury.

“I was not performing very well after an anterior cruciate ligament injury and I left to enjoy my school rugby where most of the games are filmed anyway, which is what you need if French clubs are going to be interested,” he said.

“I had won my first England Under-18 cap but then I got the injury and realised when I came back that I had not been the same player as before.”

The French club must have seen something during his memorable time at St Jo’s, which he remembers with fondness.

“It’s the pinnacle to run out on the pitch at St Jo’s and see the nursery boys and even the seniors look up to you,” he recalled.

“You are like theoretical gods, they are high-fiving you and shouting your name. It’s something I will never forget.

“You are a big family and all the boys have got your back.”

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