Ritchie: “I have grown up here”

Ritchie: “I have grown up here”

Scotland captain and back-row stalwart Jamie Ritchie will become Edinburgh Rugby’s 40th centurion if selected for this Friday night’s Benetton Rugby fixture at Hive Stadium.

It’s fitting that Ritchie will join the club’s distinguished centurions club on ‘Club Appreciation Night’ where he will likely wear Madras College and Howe of Fife RFC socks, two teams that played such a pivotal role in the Scotland skipper’s journey to the top.

It has been at Edinburgh Rugby however – a club that, in Ritchie’s own words: ‘has been part of his whole adult life’ – where the back-row has grown from a skinny and wildly courageous openside to a true leader that commands respect across the dressing room.

Having joined the club straight from school as a 17-year-old, Ritchie made his Edinburgh Rugby debut away to Leinster at the RDS Arena in October 2014 – and in truth, the former Scotland U20 has never looked back.

“It’s my tenth season, nine years. It has taken me a wee while to get to 100. I got to 50 in Cockers’ first year. It has taken me a while since then, making it is really special,” said Ritchie.

“This club has been part of my whole adult life. I have been here since I finished school when I was 17, and I’ve seen people come and go, but the club has been part of my whole adult life and it means a great deal to me.

“I have grown up here, so for me it will be a very special moment to run out for my 100th.”

Ritchie returned to action for the first time following the Rugby World Cup in last Friday’s bonus-point win against Vodacom Bulls.

Putting in an all-action 80-minute performance, Ritchie showcased why he is one of world rugby’s brightest back-row talents, and without the captaincy in 2023/24 – with Grant Gilchrist and Ben Vellacott leading the team under Everitt – the openside flanker was able to ‘just concentrate on playing.’

Ritchie continued: “I met with Sean just after we got back from the World Cup. It was one of the things we spoke about at the meeting.

“I said,’ look, whether I am captain or not you will get the same from me in terms of how I will be around the place. If you decide not to make me captain that’s fine, if you do, that’s fine and whatever the decision I will support whoever is

“That is all I can do. The biggest part of leadership and captaincy for me is being yourself and that should not change whether you have the armband or not.”

He added: “It is nice to concentrate on playing and be a bit more selfish in my preparation when I am here.

“And then it means if I am still captain of Scotland, I can throw all my efforts into that when we get back into camp.”

Sean Everitt’s side have enjoyed a hugely promising start to the new campaign, winning four games out five, with Benetton Rugby up next in the Scottish capital.

With Ritchie returning to the fray, the back-row is bolstered by a player who is a true difference-maker, and a player who is nearing 10 years of service for his boyhood club.

Ritchie has seen a lot change in decade of rugby in the capital, but now firmly believes the current crop is building towards ‘something special.’

Ritchie said: “I hate to speak too early, but I feel we are building, and we have had some results that have gone to the death that in the past may not have gone our way, but we have found ways to win these games which is really good.

“We have a lot to work on in the meantime, but we are winning and learning which is great rather than off a loss.

“We are building in the right direction and there is a lot of confidence in this group in how we are preparing and coming out of the back end of results.”

From schoolboy to centurion, Friday night is sure to be a special occasion for Ritchie and his family who are proud to call both the club and the city, home.

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