Luke Crosbie Exclusive: ‘Big skinny drip’ from football-dominated area inspiring the next generation to follow their dreams

Luke Crosbie has put in a lot of hard work to get to where he is
©Scottish Rugby/SNS

When he was around nine years old, Luke Crosbie was out for a walk with his Dad but little did they know it would be the walk that would begin a journey to Rugby World Cup selection in 2023.

On Wednesday, Edinburgh Rugby back-row man Crosbie, 26, was named in Scotland’s squad for the upcoming showpiece event in France during September and October.

Rewind the clock back some 17 years and Crosbie had barely ever heard of rugby let alone had the chance to play it, but the aforementioned walk changed everything because he and his Dad stumbled across Livingston Rugby Club and there was a senior game on.

Young Crosbie was keen to give this new sport a go despite West Lothian being a football-dominated area so his Mum and Dad set about finding the number for the Livingston club in the days after the walk.

He then headed down to Minis and the rest - via that club of origin, Currie Chieftains and Edinburgh as well as a whole heap of hard work - is history.

Crosbie said in an interview earlier this year that he was a "big skinny drip" back then who "played football before because all the boys at school played", but rugby was his thing and Scotland supporters are glad that it was and still is.

"When I was at West Calder High School and first started playing rugby at Livingston, if you’d said to me that I’d be going to a World Cup one day I would not have believed you,” Crosbie told TRU at the Scotland squad announcement at Scotts in South Queensferry this week.

"Looking at the bigger picture, I hope my selection inspires the next generation of young kids who are from an area like I was to see that it is possible to dream.

"To reach this level makes me really proud and it is a credit to everyone else around me that has helped me get this far. My parents and my partner all support me on and off the field. They come to a lot of games and my Dad and my Uncle are always pretty easy to spot in the stands. If you ever see two massive blokes who are twins at the games then that will be them!

"Even when I was playing for Scotland under-18s over in France a few years back, they drove down to watch that game and I am sure they are trying to plot another road trip to the same country now. That support means so much to me, I am pleased for myself to be in the World Cup squad, but I take even more pleasure from seeing how happy the news has made my family.

"I also must say a word of thanks for the support of my teammates who have all helped me to get to this point and helped me believe in myself.

"And a special mention to the clubs that have helped me along the way; Livingston, Currie and Edinburgh. At each different stage, folk at these places have helped me to keep pushing on."

"I was a bit nervy": The wait for the all-important phone call

Former under-20s cap Crosbie made his full Scotland debut against Tonga in 2021 and then was involved in Argentina in 2022, but it was gaining a start in the Six Nations opener against England at Twickenham earlier this year that really made people sit up and take note of his abilities.

He made 20 tackles that day and put his body on the line as the Scots came out on top 29-23 to lift the Calcutta Cup.

Crosbie is a workhorse, a real team player and someone who will give it everything on the pitch whilst bringing a physical edge to things. Currently, the Scotland back-row options are stacked - captain Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson, Jack Dempsey, Rory Darge and Hamish Watson are the others heading for the World Cup while Sam Skinner can also play there - and it is those traits previously mentioned that pushed Crosbie just ahead of Bath’s Josh Bayliss to make the final 33.

"I was a bit nervy in the lead up to getting the call to tell me that I’d made it into the World Cup squad, but in the last couple of years I have learned just to focus on my training and games and the bigger picture will take care of itself," Crosbie, who now has five full caps, explained.

"Obviously getting the call was a really proud moment for myself. I was just sitting in the house about to head out and when the phone did ring I did start to think; ‘Here we go I might not make it’ because international sport is tough.

"Thankfully it was a positive call and it was a proud moment for me and my family and it is very exciting going forward now.

"I took a lot of confidence from the season just gone because I was going well with Edinburgh and then to be involved in a Six Nations for the first time gave me a big boost. Coming on from that, the pre-season training block we have done leading into the World Cup has been very beneficial.

"Everything is focused on what we do in games and I think that rugby element - plus the other work which has taken our fitness to a new level - has put us in a good place."

"Luke has gone really well for us this season": Townsend’s praise

As mentioned, Scotland’s back-row stocks are pretty strong just now and there is one more Famous Grouse Nations Series match versus Georgia at Scottish Gas Murrayfield to come on August 26th before the squad departs for the showpiece event.

Then comes a mouthwatering Pool B opener in Marseille versus reigning champions South Africa on September 10th.

It will be hard for Crosbie to break into the starting XV for that one, but he has certainly never shirked a challenge.

"Luke has gone well for us this season,” Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said. "In the Six Nations, and when I think back to the Argentina tour as well, there were players who really stepped up and he was one of them.

"So, it was a tough decision [picking him over Bayliss], but we’re delighted with the make-up of the back row we have selected and I know Luke will relish this opportunity."

Scotland's World Cup squad

Forwards: Ewan Ashman, Jamie Bhatti, Dave Cherry, Luke Crosbie, Scott Cummings, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey, Matt Fagerson, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Richie Gray, WP Nel, Jamie Ritchie (captain), Pierre Schoeman, Javan Sebastian, Sam Skinner, Rory Sutherland, George Turner, Hamish Watson.

Backs: Darcy Graham, Blair Kinghorn, Chris Harris, Ben Healy, George Horne, Huw Jones, Ali Price, Cameron Redpath, Finn Russell, Ollie Smith, Kyle Steyn, Sione Tuipulotu, Duhan van der Merwe, Ben White.