A young graduate stepped out of the classroom this summer, and tomorrow will be pitch-side at the biggest sporting event in the world – the Rugby World Cup final in Japan.
As England prepare to take on South Africa in the International Stadium Yokohama this Saturday, Cameron Petrie will be at the centre of the action.
Cameron graduated from the University of Sunderland with a degree in Broadcast Journalism this summer, but years before he even came to university the keen rugby fan saw an opportunity to pursue his passion, and kick off his career in style.
“During the last World Cup final in 2015 I was in my last year of college,” says Cameron. “My plan was always to work in sports media, and one of my dreams was work at a Rugby World Cup. To be in Japan at arguably the biggest event in the history of rugby is a dream come true.”
Cameron, 21, has spent six weeks with the Rugby World Cup Media team in Japan. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity which the young journalist has been working towards for years.
Now based in Tokyo, Cameron has been supplying content in terms of analysis, data and research for the matches, as well as doing interviews with players, coaches and officials.
His time in Japan has seen him pitch-side at an amazing array of matches, an opportunity any rugby fan would die for, including Japan v Russia, New Zealand v South Africa, Ireland v Scotland, Russia v Samoa, Wales v Australia, England v Argentina, New Zealand v Namibia, Argentina v USA and Japan v Scotland.
He says: “It’s amazing. I have been working very hard with long hours and not a lot of time off, but it’s funny how the hours fly when you enjoy your work.
Though Cameron says his experiences in Japan have been truly life changing, he has also been through some extremely testing times.
“I was sitting in my hotel room on the day Typhoon Hagibis hit, and wasn’t allowed to leave all day. I felt the building actually swaying, which was terrifying considering this was a 20 storey building. Later found it wasn’t the typhoon at all, but a 5.7 magnitude earthquake.
“Apart from that the weather has either been umbrella-breaking wind and rain, or the unbearable heat and humidity. My work polo top was wet just about every day!”
Cameron ran his own Rugby Union Podcast, ‘Honest Rugby Chat’, and presented his own sports show on the University’s community radio station, Spark. He has also worked for BT Sport, TalkSPORT, BBC, Sky Sports and pro rugby team Ospreys.
It was through his podcast that Cameron met and interviewed Simon Gleave, Head of Analysis for Gracenote Sports. Simon was putting together a team to produce statistics on every team and player for the Rugby World Cup intranet, content for the tournament’s media and website, and for their social media, producing analysis of the teams and play.
“He asked if I wanted to be part of it – and I said course I did. It was beyond anything I could have asked for.”
But the cost of living and working in Japan for over two months as an intern almost put pay to his plans – until he approached the University of Sunderland’s Development Office.
“The company covered flights and accommodation, but I needed money to eat, drink and live. I’m spending two months in Tokyo, and while it isn’t horrendously expensive, it isn’t cheap either. So funding from the University’s Development Office has been a huge help.”
Now, Cameron will be pitch-side tomorrow for the final, and is tipping England to win, “I think by seven points,” he added – but despite this he will continue to be impartial during the game – though he has no doubt about who he is backing.
“I was born in London, and lived there until I was eleven, so I’ll be supporting England to win,” says Cameron. “Which sounds a bit odd when your mum’s Welsh and your dad’s Scottish!”
England play South Africa at 9am on Saturday 2 November, with coverage on ITV1 from 8.50am.