JAMIE Ritchie already has half a dozen Scotland caps to his name, and all of them count. But you do get the feeling speaking to him, that he himself won’t believe he’s finally arrived as an international until he takes the field in the Six Nations Championship.

Over the coming weeks, there will be ample opportunity for the 22 year-old Edinburgh flanker (who, just to make you feel a bit older, was born five months after the Scots last played for the Grand Slam) to make his mark, helped in part through injury to others, but above all else, being a talent in his own right. A dream coming true

“When you are a kid, my first game I came to was a Six Nations game. These are the ones you dream about, these are the ones that come around every year, and you want to be involved,” Ritchie confirmed.

“And these are the ones everybody talks about. So definitely, this is for real, this is the big time.

“My first game I went to was France in 2006 – we won it, Sean Lamont scored two tries.”

Since winning his first cap in Canada last summer, Ritchie completed a full house during the Autumn Tests, appearing in all four games. That some regulars are missing, and his ability to pack on either side of the scrum, Jamie’s services will be called upon, probably sooner than later.

“There are a few guys who are out with injury and unfortunately Hamish (Watson) picked up his last weekend, which is a shame for him,” Ritchie explained. “But there is huge competition in that area, always, regardless if there are boys injured or not. I think there is an opportunity there. I think I played well enough in the Autumn to show that I can go well at this level.

“In the Autumn, I was asked the question whether I was an out and out seven or six. But to be honest, I try and do the same thing.in both positions. The way I play the game, I like to get involved at the breakdown, try and get my hands on the ball in the wide channels, and be a good defender.

For six and seven that’s a huge part of the game. It just depends where you are on the side of the scrum. I’m a good line-out forward as well, so even if I’m at seven, depending on who the other personnel are, might determine if I’m in the line-out or not.”

If called in at blindside, he may find former Edinburgh colleague John Hardie at seven. Ritchie speaks warmly of his time playing alongside the now, Newcastle man, and is aware of his capabilities.

“I played a few games when John was at Edinburgh. It’s always good fun, getting off the back of him smoking someone and getting a turnover off the back of this,” said Ritchie, explaining Hardie’s somewhat unorthodox approach.

“If guys run at you, you have to tackle them. Usually ‘Hards’ is running at someone to tackle them. It’s always fun to watch, and it’s good to play with as well.”

Ritchie has come of age in recent months, growing in stature and knowledge both with Scotland and especially during Edinburgh’s extended run of success, both domestically and in Europe.

“Off the back of seven straight wins with Edinburgh, it’s been awesome, especially the last two weeks; away in Toulon was an amazing place to go, one of the biggest stadiums in Europe, one of the most famous stadiums in Europe, and to come away with a result like that, when we probably left a couple of tries out there, was an awesome feeling. Then to come home and beat Montpellier the way we did was fantastic.

“I hope I’m picking up experience all of the time, and obviously got the opportunity to play. And I’d like to think, that I could step up again, and back myself in most situations. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be an international rugby player.

“When given the chance, I grabbed it with both hands and thankfully played pretty well.”


“Literally as far back as I can remember. Since I started playing rugby in Primary 4. I did a couple of other sports – I was quite good at judo and played a bit of cricket. But rugby was always the one I never thought about stopping,” said Ritchie, his appetite further whetted while coming through development squads.

“I played three years at under-20. At my first World Cup I played against guys who then played for New Zealand, like Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, who have obviously stepped on the world stage.

“When you play against these guys, you are like, ‘well if they can do it, why can’t I’?”

Playing against Italy may be a career highlight for Jamie, but it has been his overall play which has brought him this far, including some of the less noticeable contributions, like his perfectly-timed pass to Darcy Graham out in Toulon, a piece of opportunism highlighted by coach Richard Cockerill..

“It’s probably one the best things I’ve ever done on a rugby pitch,” laughed James, adding; “And then Bill (Mata) goes and pulls that one out of his top hat. No, if you get the opportunity to throw them, then you throw them. But Bill’s was pretty incredible.

“Cockers? Did he not say that with a smirk on his face? That was very kind of him, and I was chuffed with it. But the finish from Darcy was pretty cool as well.”