(With thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for this photograph.)
Saturday, 30 October was an incredibly proud day for ESMS, as former pupils (FP) Jamie Hodgson and Ross Thompson earned their Scotland rugby debuts, to play alongside FP George Turner, against Tonga, in the Autumn Nations Series.
As former coach to Jamie and Ross while they were pupils at Stewart’s Melville College, the current Head of PE and Sport, Bryn Lockie, was incredibly proud to be in the crowd at BT Murrayfield, on Saturday, to see them make their full Scotland rugby debuts.
And what made seeing the duo representing their country together in the 60-14 triumph over Tonga to start the Autumn Nations Series even more special was the fact that another former pupil, George Turner, earned his 18th cap at the same time. The last time that Stewart’s Melville College achieved the fantastic feat of earning three Scottish caps in the same match was 1991!
Glasgow Warriors’ hooker Turner, now 29, has been in and around the national team squad for a while, but for second-row Hodgson and stand-off Thompson it was a whole new experience and they handled it very well.
Edinburgh Rugby’s Hodgson, 23, played the whole 80 minutes while Warrior Thompson, 22, came on for the last 20 minutes and kicked a couple of conversions.
“It’s fantastic and to be at the game on Saturday to watch Jamie and Ross join George in Scotland colours was brilliant. I had dropped them messages beforehand to wish them well and then to see them running out for the national team was special,” Mr Lockie said.
“Jamie was quite a late developer in terms of his rugby. He was always in the first XV in his year group, but he really came to the fore around under-16 level which is when he really started to impress.
“When he was in S5 there was an injury to one of the S6 second-rows, so we gave Jamie a chance in the under-18s first XV and we never dropped him after that because he took his chance and just ran with it.
“He was always a massively hard worker who analyses the game a lot and, after the form he showed in S5, we made him Captain of the first XV when he was in S6 [2015/16] and he did a great job and had the respect of all of his teammates because he led by example.
“When Jamie was Captain, Ross came into that group as an S5 and you could see that he was a tidy rugby player who was very diligent.
“In his S6 year Ross was the Captain of the First XV and they won the Scottish Schools Cup [defeating Dollar in a cracking final in 2016-17] and even at that young age he was a great role model.
“Since he got his chance in the Glasgow Warriors squad last year he has not looked back and he always looks calm out there on the field.
“Given they knew each other from school, Jamie and Ross will have really enjoyed getting their first caps together and George scored a try to cap off an excellent afternoon.”
International caps in any sport do not come without ups and downs along the way and Stuart Edwards, the Head of Rugby at Stewart’s Melville College, believes the journey that Hodgson and Thompson have been on in recent years can teach our current pupils a lot.
“We talk a lot about resilience to our aspiring young rugby players,” Mr Edwards explains.
“It is important to realise that not everyone will make it to the top and that the ones that do will each take different paths to get there.
“Jamie and Ross are both great examples of this because in the last three or four years they have played club rugby, played Super6 rugby, been part of the Scottish Rugby Academy and then forced their way into the pro team set-ups, but it has taken them a lot of hard work along the way.
“Both guys have also undertaken university studies at various points alongside their rugby and I just think they are great examples and role models to the rugby players currently at the school.
“For them to be able to see people four or five years older than them making it all the way to a Scotland cap means they can dare to dream, but it is also important they see the hard work that has gone on to get there from the duo, along with George.”
“I think everyone connected with the school was chuffed to see the boys doing so well on the big stage with Scotland along with George and we look forward to seeing how they progress in the coming weeks and months.”
Article by Gary Heatly