(With thanks to Scottish Rugby/SNS for the photograph.)
Head of Rugby at Stewart’s Melville College, Stuart Edwards, has expressed the pride felt across ESMS last Saturday evening, when Former Pupil and Head Boy Ross Thompson made his first professional start for Glasgow Warriors.
Not only did Thompson start the match at stand-off, score 13 points and guide the Warriors to a 23-22 victory over their rivals Edinburgh Rugby, he was also named Player of the Match after the PRO14 clash.
The 21-year-old had shown a fortnight ago, when he came off the bench for a professional debut against the same opponents at BT Murrayfield, that he was ready for his chance at the top level but what has been impressive about his play this month is his calmness under pressure.
“I was very proud to watch the match on television last Saturday and see the way that Ross played. I know lots of other people connected with the school were too” Edwards said.
“From a young age he has been a driven, hard working guy when it comes to his rugby and he has always wanted to learn and get better. When I came to teach at the school he was the stand-off in the first team that I coached and being a stand-off myself I thought he had some talent, but everything that has happened to him since then has been up to his determination.
“When he was in the First XV at U18 level at school working under coaches Bryn Lockie and Jimmy Moran, he was one of the key players in the side and he was Captain when they won the Scottish Schools' Cup (in 2016/17).
“He was also Head Boy in his final year at school, so he has a sensible head on his shoulders and that has been a big help to him as he has navigated his way to pro rugby recognition.
“He has worked his way through the Scotland age-grade squads and while with Glasgow Hawks and then the Ayrshire Bulls in the FOSROC Super6 since school he has been knocking on the door with Glasgow.
“It has taken him maybe longer than he would have liked, but you have to bide your time in elite sport and then grab the chance when it comes.
“And he has certainly done that in recent weeks, I now look forward to seeing how he progresses and know he has an exciting future in the sport.
“He also inspires the current crop of young players at the school and shows them what can be achieved.”
After the recent match with Edinburgh, Thompson admits he was a bit nervous before kick-off, but he soon settled into his rhythm.
“I was pretty nervous to begin with but everyone inside and outside me on the pitch definitely helped,” he explained.
“Ali (Price, the experienced Scotland player) was really good, he took over a lot of the kicking duties and he just kept talking the whole way through the game which definitely made it a lot easier for me.
“I think everyone at the Warriors is hoping we can now build on this for the rest of the season. We don’t know when the games will be played due to Covid, but hopefully when we do get a chance to play, we can get some more good results.
“It is just nice to be playing some rugby again. I think I’ve only played 10 minutes this season so to get 80 minutes at the pro level is really good, I loved it!”
Others who would have loved it whilst watching on TV from the comfort of their own homes would have been Thompson’s family. Did you know that Ross comes from a strong sporting line?
His grandfather Eric Thompson, who passed away in 1992, was inducted into the Scottish Cricket Hall of Fame in 2019 after a stellar international career between 1965 and 1977. One of only two Scotland players born in the Orkney Islands, he was one of the very best seam bowlers ever to come out of this country, while his cousin Kirsty Gilmour is a double Commonwealth Games medallist in badminton.
Congratulations Ross. We look forward to watching you in more matches to come!
By Gary Heatly