BIGGER is not always better, according to Matt Scott.

The way rugby has gone in recent years gives the distinct impression that bigger, bulkier players are far more suited to the sport but Scott is quick to disagree. 

The Edinburgh inside centre knows from personal experience that aspiring to put on more and more muscle isn’t necessarily the best way to improve as a top class rugby player.

Last season, Scott was on the sidelines for a lengthy five months as a result of a concussion he picked up in his side’s clash with Toulon in the Champions Cup and being unable to play any competitive rugby meant he spent a considerable length of time in the gym. The result of lifting so many weights meant that his bodyweight skyrocketed to 110 kilograms. It was all solid muscle but nevertheless, it was not, says Scott, doing him any favours.

“It’s a bit of a myth in rugby that the bigger you are, the better you are at winning collisions,” he said. 

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“When I was concussed last year, I was in the gym four or five times a week. I was running a lot as well, but I kept nudging the weight up. On paper you probably look like a better athlete because with 10 extra kilos my body fat was really low, I was running good speed times, but on the pitch I felt knackered all the time just dragging around so much extra weight. 

“You then get over the tipping point of being effective as a rugby player. I say to the young guys, `find what weight you feel best at playing at, and almost stick up for yourself if you feel pressure to nudge you up a couple of kilos’. 

“Why do that if it restricts you or changes the way that you play? I felt like I didn’t have the speed or agility to make an outside break so I started carrying differently. I wouldn’t look to run into space, I’d look to run over the top of someone.”

Scott’s training was promptly tweaked and he spent the summer spending more time doing conditioning work and less time in the gym. The result is a leaner rugby player, weighing around 100kgs, and one who is far happier with how he is playing.

“I’m feeling like I’m getting through a lot more work than I did over the last couple of seasons, and I’m really happy with physical shape I’m in. I think going back to that type of player is more suited to my skill set,” he said.

“Managing my programme has meant weight has dropped off me, while I still feel strong and able to make an impact that way in games.”

Scott has been an important part of the Edinburgh side that has started the season so impressively. His partnership with Mark Bennett has flourished, and Scott admits the pair, who have spent a considerable amount of time together as they both recover from their respective injury issues that have plagued them in recent years, put a considerable effort into making the partnership as fruitful as possible.

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“We have been working hard on it during the week in training, talking to each other about what we're going to do on the pitch that night and really trying to help each other out as much as we can, whether that's putting each other in for tries were supporting each other in defence,” he said.

“When we’re in the groove there’s a good vibe, a good energy and you’re enjoying yourself on the pitch. The communication’s high. When the flow is there we’re both on the same page, we’re calling things at the right time, there’s going to be mistakes but you feel more in synch. 

"Whenever we’ve had good performances this year we’re having a laugh on the pitch, we’re both enjoying ourselves and that confidence is something we didn’t have at the end of last season when we’d both come back from long-term injuries. We were both focusing on ourselves. We were worrying about other things, but now we’re helping each other out on the pitch. It’s not perfect by any means, we’re still making mistakes we want to rectify but we’re certainly moving in the right direction.”

Scott is hopeful his good performances this season, as well as his connection with Bennett, will result in him being recalled into the Scotland set-up. He missed out on the World Cup squad as a result of his concussion lay-off but rather than focus on reclaiming his place in the Scotland squad, he is quick to stress his immediate focus is club rugby. 

For now, Scott insists he is looking no further than Friday, when Edinburgh face Bordeaux-Begles at Murrayfield in their second European Challenge Cup match of the campaign.

Their win against Agen last weekend extended their excellent record against French sides, with wins home and away against Toulon and Montpellier at home last season giving the distinct impression that French opposition suits Edinburgh.

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“I think the last couple of times we've played (French teams) we’ve just tried to keep the tempo high,” he said. 

“Historically, they are a big, heavy teams, big men and we try to move them around a bit. That has tended to work for us the last few times we’ve done it.

"Montpellier, Toulon, with bigger names in European rugby than our star players, I think it brings out the best in us. It’s the same again this week against Bordeaux. They have some outstanding individuals. So it will be the same - we will all be wanting to test ourselves against these guys.”

Scott in particular will be tested, as his opposite number is likely to be Semi Radrarda, the Fijian who had an impressive World Cup campaign. It is tests such as this though, that Scott relishes.

“We are preparing as if (Bordeaux) are going to send a full team,” said Scott. 

“If they don't then so be it, but I would personally want to go against (Radrarda) and (Seta) Tamanivalu as well. He's a big guy and a good player. For myself, it will be another step up this season in terms of the calibre of opposition. I'm looking forward to it.”