Nutton’s Field of Dreams
You never know when that life-changing moment can happen. That big promotion, a winning lotto number or even a dream job.
In the case of Dan Nutton, that moment arrived as he was sitting in a tractor by the side of a field – minding his own business and working on a farm in East Lothian.
The scrum-half was asked back to train with the club in the build-up to last month’s Challenge Cup Quarter-Final against Bordeaux – an opportunity he grabbed hold of with both hands.
“I was literally sat at the side of a field, in a tractor, and then a text came through from Edinburgh Rugby asking how I was doing and if I was fit. I had been training with Heriot’s, so was in good shape fitness wise and ready to go.
“Then the next day I get the call, and I was invited back in to train with the club in the build-up to Bordeaux.
“I downed tools on the farm job – luckily my boss was really sound about it and let me in and train for the week – and next thing I knew I was on the plane to France for a European Quarter-Final.”
For the 23-year-old scrum-half, it has truly been a rapid rise to the top. Having worked for a farm contractors throughout lockdown, Nutton believed his chance at professional rugby was gone.
However, with the injury big hitting the club’s scrum-halves room, Nutton was first in line to get the call-up having familiarised himself with Edinburgh’s attacking system during his trial period in the capital last season.
That attacking system was at the back of his mind however as he focussed on ploughing fields, rather than the training field.
“During this COVID period, I got a job on a nearby farm thinking it was the end of my rugby chance.
“I was working a farm contractors company that operates from the Scottish Borders up to Stirling way and I was just doing the grunt work, laying concrete and drying grain – basically whatever jobs they needed me to do
“I was driving tractors around and it was pretty brutal work – the hours were savage – but it was a good experience. Then, as I mentioned, the call came in the build-up to Bordeaux.
“I obviously saw Cocker mentioned that I had been working on a farm in the build-up to the Bordeaux game and I’m pretty sure I got called the farm boy in the Scotsman! It has all happened pretty quickly, but it’s been a good journey so far.”
Although it was perhaps surprising to see Nutton named on the bench for the European Quarter-Final, the scrum-half did make his debut for the club last season, making an appearance from the bench in the Challenge Cup win away to Agen in November 2019.
It has been in no way a routine path to BT Murrayfield for the former Merchiston Castle pupil, but Nutton has embraced his unusual journey that has taken him from Newcastle to Sydney.
“I took a bit of a roundabout route to joining Edinburgh if I’m being honest. I left school and did a bit of the Scotland pathways stuff and U16s – but I missed out on U20s, so played a year in Australia with Eastern Suburbs and loved it – Sydney is a great place to live as well.
“I came back to Edinburgh and decided to go to University, so went down to Newcastle University and studied Countryside Management there – playing for the university rugby team. I did a bit of stuff with Newcastle Falcons as well while I was down there.
“Then, out of the blue, Richard Cockerill and the Edinburgh set-up got in touch, asking what I was doing rugby-wise for the next year, so I came back last year for a trial period and then COVID-19 happened.
“It was literally a case of taking it head on. I was obviously pretty disappointed when COVID ended my time with Edinburgh short, so as soon as the call came through I was dead keen to get back involved. It was a baptism of fire, that’s for sure!”
Although Nutton didn’t feature from the bench in the Quarter-Final defeat to Bordeaux, the scrum-half went one step better a fortnight later as he made his home debut in the 2020-21 opener against Ospreys.
The 23-year-old made a 20-minute appearance from the bench, an experience the hometown hero called a ‘dream come true’.
“Although I didn’t get on against Bordeaux, it was a great experience just to be involved. There’s not too many people that can say they’ve been on the bench for a European Quarter-Final.
“Coming back in to the Ospreys week, and being named on the bench was an experience like nothing else really. Coming off the bench and playing against high calibre players like Alun Wyn Jones and Rhys Webb was unreal.
“It was a shame that the conditions probably dampened the game, but getting on for 20 minutes was amazing and I loved every minute of it. As I said in my tweet after the game, it really was a dream come true to play for Edinburgh Rugby at BT Murrayfield.”