Rugby league is a family affair for Cameron Torpy who recently finished playing a season for the Brisbane Tigers with his brother Brayden in the team while his father, club CEO Brian, watched on from the stands.
Recently the backdrop for Torpy’s charging runs has changed to the beautiful Midi-Pyrenees region as the prop forward plys his trade for the Albi Tigers in the French Elite 1 Championship.
The Queenslander couldn’t have asked for a better start to his stint in France with Albi snaring a 31-22 victory over Toulouse Elite 1 in their first fixture played in front of their home crowd.
“I enjoyed my first game in France and even better to get a win. It was a pretty surreal moment getting to play football in a foreign country,” Torpy, who played 45 minutes, told Everything Rugby League.
“It was the first time in over a year they allowed crowds back, so the stadium was packed out and the fans were very vocal. I noticed the physicality of the game would be on par with the Intrust Super Cup with some tackles being allowed that we wouldn’t get away with in Australia.
“The speed probably wasn’t as fast, but in saying that it was Round 1 and teams will improve as the season goes on.”
While playing rugby league is the focus, Torpy will make the most of his opportunity to enjoy Albi, which hosts the Toulouse Lautrec museum and an amazing cathedral, and other European countries.
“I’m loving it here in Albi so far, it’s a beautiful city with lots of history, friendly people and great food. Very lucky being in a part of France that is so close to other big cities in Europe, which I will hopefully be able to travel to when we get time off.”
Torpy admits to not having mastered the French language at this point but is confident he will manage on the field and at training in the short term.
“Before I moved over I downloaded Duolingo on my phone and have been learning some basics of the language. But I’m very fortunate the coach (Joris Canton) speaks very good English, so he is able to explain everything well and some of the boys in the team speak English too.”
— Albi Rugby League (@sitearlxiii) October 17, 2021
The big prop will have a cheer squad back in Brisbane, including two family members at the Brisbane Tigers who will monitor his progress in the south of France.
“It was always a goal to play with my brother and I was lucky enough to do that in 2019 at the Northern Pride and then also this year playing for the Brisbane Tigers. Not many people get to play with a sibling at a high level, so that’s always special. With my dad being the CEO, he would run the club behind the scenes and let our head coach John Buchanan take care of the football department. We would try and keep our football and personal lives as separate as we could otherwise life constantly becomes just about football and it can consume you. But of course it’s nice having Dad involved in the club.”
Meanwhile Torpy reflects on the opportunities rugby league can provide that has seen him move to the other side of the world, play in Cairns and NSW Cup for the Canterbury Bulldogs in Sydney a few years ago.
“I think the biggest blessing rugby league has given me is the opportunity to play football all over Australia and now internationally. I got to spend two years in Sydney at the Bulldogs which was a great experience for a 20/21 year old getting to hang around and train with NRL players, which I learned a lot on how to apply professionalism to sport. Then a year in Cairns in 2019 where I made my QLD cup debut for the Northern Pride. Even though we didn’t have the greatest season, I still enjoyed my time there and met many great people along the way.”