Former SMC pupil, Jack Blain, is 'still pinching himself' after becoming the first player born in the 2000s to play for a Scottish pro rugby side last weekend.
When the Edinburgh Rugby team for their first pre-season friendly against Bath was announced, fans’ eyes were immediately drawn to the new name wearing number 14; a local teenager who had only left school a few months ago... Former Pupil Jack had been selected to play against the English giants at Meggetland!
Beginning his rugby career from a young age, Jack first started playing rugby with the Stew Mel Lions, before playing school rugby from around Primary 4. He said. "I tried to get involved in as much sporting activity at SMC as possible and enjoyed cricket and athletics before Rugby kind of took over. I played with the Scotland U18 team as well as the SMC First XV during my last two years at school, so it was a busy time!”
Jack was one of the try scorers when our First XV won the U18 Scottish Schools’ Cup in 2016, beating Dollar in the final at BT Murrayfield, and since leaving SMC this year, he has become a stage three player with Edinburgh Rugby.
For three weeks over the summer, Jack did pre-season with the other Academy players before being told he would be heading off with the full squad to St Andrews for a training camp. must admit it was weird at first running out onto a training pitch with guys who I have watched on the TV growing up! It came as a massive surprise last Wednesday when the coaches read out the squad for the Bath game and I was starting.
Of his feelings on match day, Jack said "I had to pinch myself really to believe it was true and, even now, I still feel like it is all a bit of a dream. Leading up to the match I was feeling pretty nervous, but once I got out there I just tried to get involved as much as possible. I didn’t see much of the ball, but hopefully I did well enough in the 40 minutes I was on. My phone has been going pretty mad with messages over the last few days, I think I have heard from everyone I have ever met!"
"A few people have mentioned about being the first player born after 2000 to play for Edinburgh and it is a pretty cool stat to have."
Edinburgh lost the pre-season match 12-10 and are next in action this Friday down at Newcastle Falcons. Jack’s parents and brothers were at Meggetland to watch and are excited to watch his career progress.
To make things even better, another former Stewart’s Melville College pupil Jamie Hodgson, now vice-captain of Watsonians and a stage two Academy player, also made his Edinburgh debut against Bath in the second-row.
Head of Rugby at SMC, Stuart Edwards, said: "It’s great to see someone like Jack getting a chance with Edinburgh. He was always a talented sportsman at school and really put the hard work in. He was a good team player and to see him progress so quickly to play alongside Scotland internationalists is quite amazing.
As rugby coaches at the school we also try to instil values in the youngsters that will help them as they move out of school and onto new things. Jack is level headed and won’t get too ahead of himself. He knows he has a lot of work to do, but to see him and Jamie running out for Edinburgh was a proud moment for us all at the school."
Congratulations, Jack, from everyone at ESMS!
Article by Gary Heatly