With Connacht calling, Lloyd is intent on balancing rugby with medicine

The scrum-half took a year out of his studies with RCSI when taking up an offer from Ulster. But this time around, he is determined to do it all.

ANGUS LLOYD PUT everything on hold in hope of making a crust from rugby once before.

This time around, all systems will remain firmly set to go.

The 26-year-old will run out with Clontarf in Sunday’s All-Ireland League final at the Aviva Stadium, the culmination of what has been another terrific season for the scrum-half.

Angus Lloyd The scrum-half pictured at the Aviva Stadium ahead of Sunday's AIL final. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

For the second time in his career, Lloyd has managed to play his way into the professional ranks through his form at club level. Trinity provided the springboard for his first taste of provincial rugby – with Ulster and then a loan stint at Munster – midway through this season, he took a call from Andy Friend and has been working hard to balance a host of commitments since.

That work pales in comparison to his curricular interests, though, and he is looking forward with no little trepidation to upcoming exams in his penultimate year studying medicine.

Before finals next year he will have a full-time deal with Connacht and his time will be stretched even tighter. Yet he is grateful to Friend, Andy Wood in Clontarf and, crucially, the RCSI for allowing him to chase dual targets.

“It’s going to be tough,” says Lloyd with a grave expression, “when I went to RCSI with it I didn’t think they’d say yes.

“When Connacht first approached me at Christmas, Andy Friend rang me asking would I be keen. (I said): ‘yeah I’d be really keen, but I have to figure it out with college.’

If (RCSI) had said no, I wouldn’t have gone. From my experience of it last time, it’s just very fickle. So it wasn’t worth putting everything on the line, taking another year out of medicine, so I just want to get medicine done.”

“Connacht have been very flexible and so have RCSI, both of them have been amazing. It will be tough, but I think it’s doable.

He worked hard to fit himself in around any flexibility offered his way too. Lloyd signed with Connacht in December and found himself getting worrying close to the field at the RDS within mere days.

“I trained on the Thursday, for like an hour, and then travelled down praying Caolin Blade got through the warm-up,” he jokes.

Since then, he has plunged himself into a rhythm of training with Connacht until the matchday 23 is decided. If he was out, it was back to the RCSI, back training with Clontarf. Then play with the Bulls of a Saturday before often heading in to hospital as part of placement work.

Angus Lloyd dejected Lloyd in action against Cardiff Blues. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Next season, he hopes to have the majority of his hospital placements in Galway to at least keep the mileage down while he lends his skills to Connacht during the World Cup and beyond.

His previous year in the pro game brought him a full gamut of experience, from working alongside both Ruan Pienaar and Conor Murray, to seeing how quickly opportunities can come and go through sheer luck of fitness and availability.

He made it onto the European stage when Munster defeated Toulouse in the 2017 Champions Cup quarter-final. But with Murray injured, it stung to miss out on the semi-final against Saracens while Rassie Erasmus’ uncertain future loomed like a cloud.

“Duncan Williams was the only 9, they didn’t put one on the bench. I was devastated, I thought ‘this is it, it’s as big as it’s going to get!’

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He has represented four clubs in the AIL (Ballynahinch and UL Bohs in addition to his Dublin clubs) and is not far short of representing all four provinces (having played with Leinster up through U19 level), so Lloyd has no qualms adapting to new situations and new calls. And while he admits he has been caught ‘shouting the wrong things’ at Castle Avenue training now and then, he has done more than enough to keep Andy Friend and Andy Wood impressed all campaign and earn another shot at provincial rugby.

“I thought I was good enough to do it. And was I going to get another look? I didn’t know.

“I was pretty content with sticking with medicine, but if the opportunity arose and everyone was flexible I’d definitely take it, which it has. I got a three-month contract off Connacht, went down and gave it a stab as best I could.

“Luckily enough I got something off the back of it.

“I have a good understanding of what it’s about now. All you can do is put  your best foot forward. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.

“Luckily I’ve got something else to fall back on afterwards.”

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Sean Farrell

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