Jamie Ritchie may no longer captain Edinburgh, but he would love to retain the Scotland captaincy. The 27-year-old took over as captain in October 2022 and led the side in the autumn series that year, as well as the Six Nations Championship and the 2023 Rugby World Cup. The tournament in France did not go the way Scotland wanted and Ritchie suffered the added pain of being dropped in the first half of two of the three Scotland games he played. However, this did not diminish his pride.
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“It’s been a privilege and every time I captain Scotland it’s an honour,” said the player, who has captained his country 14 times. “It’s something I enjoy doing in terms of the thought that goes into it on my part, the complexity, and I’m passionate about it. The group is easy to lead, and there are a lot of guys in it who helped me. If I keep doing this, it will be great.”
Ritchie also co-captained Edinburgh last season, working in tandem with Grant Gilchrist, but Sean Everitt, the club’s new manager, decided to ease Ritchie’s burden when he took over in the summer. Ben Vellacott and Gilchrist now share the honor, while Everitt believes Ritchie will thrive if he can focus on his rugby. The flanker, who will make his 100th appearance for Edinburgh in Friday’s home game against Benetton, took the decision with grace and promised his contribution would not be diminished.
Guinness Six Nations – Leadership Beyond the Armband
I met Sean right after we got back from the World Championships, Ritchie said. That was one of the things we talked about at the meeting. I said, “Look, whether I’m a captain or not, you’re going to get the same thing from me in terms of how I conduct myself in this position.
If you decide not to make me captain that’s fine, if you do that that’s fine and whatever the decision is I will support whoever is [captain]. That’s all I can do. The biggest part of leadership and captaincy for me is being yourself and that shouldn’t change whether you have the armband or not.
Although Ritchie was proud to captain his team at the World Cup, his experience was tainted by the results. Defeats to South Africa and Ireland saw Gregor Townsend’s side crash out of the group stage and he was further frustrated by injuries that ended his participation in the matches against Tonga and Ireland before the break. He was the victim of a hard tackle by Tongan striker Afusipa Taumoepo, which resulted in a mandatory 14-day suspension. He recovered for the match against Ireland but forced off after 20 minutes with a shoulder problem.
It would be a big surprise if Ritchie doesn’t retain his Six Nations captaincy, but he’s not making any assumptions. You’ll have to ask Gregor, he said. They didn’t tell me I didn’t have a job. Let’s wait and see. Since then I have contacted the coaches. We had a personal review and talked about the team’s work and how we plan to grow. We at a different stage of the journey compared to the two teams we played in the group.
Six Nations 2024 – Team’s Resilience and Progress
“Personally, this is not how I wanted my World Cup to go. As a team, we were disappointed to go out early, but we’ve moved on from that.”
Everitt said last week that he believes a fit and fit Ritchie can help Scotland win the Six Nations, such is his influence and impact. A bold statement given Scotland had finished no higher than third since reaching the final five of the Five Nations in 1999, but there were encouraging signs in last season’s Championship when they won three games and Ritchie took the manager’s compliment in stride.
That’s very nice of him, he said. I hope that’s the case. What you want is for everyone to play well and if I’m fit and healthy and playing well, hopefully I can contribute as much as anyone else to helping Scotland win.
That’s goal for us. It will be tough, as it always is in the Six Nations, but we will believe we can win every game, but there are things we need to learn after the World Cup and hopefully we can implement them.
Ritchie returned to the club with a bonus-point win over the Vodak Bulls on Friday and a typically boisterous performance against the South African side. Edinburgh made a strong start under Everitt, winning four of five in the URC.
Season Predictions and Impressed by Team’s Tenacity
Ritchie, now in his 10th season at the club, is reluctant to make predictions about what the season might like but has impressed by the tenacity shown so far. I hate to say too early, but I feel like we are building and we have some results that have led to deaths that may not have gone our way in the past, he said. We have some work to do, but we are winning and learning, which is great. We are building in the right direction.
Friday will be a milestone for Ritchie, a Dundee native who took his first taste of rugby with Madras RFC at St Andrews and moved to Edinburgh straight from Strathallan School. It didn’t take me long to get to 100, he said. Making this film is truly special. This club has been a part of my entire adult life.
I’ve been here since I left school when I was 17 and have seen people come and go, but the club has been a part of my entire adult life and it means a lot to me. I grew up here, so… it will be a special moment for me when I can score 100 points.
.Six nations 2024 – Exiting Scotland star partially blamed for Edinburgh loss by ‘angry’ Everitt
Sean Everitt felt Edinburgh only had themselves to blame for Friday’s defeat to Benetton but he refused to let Toulouse-bound Blair Kinghorn bear responsibility for his victory-costing mistake. The Scots looked to take an overnight lead in the United Rugby Championship when they led 12-0 at the start of the match and then 19-10 at half-time.
But in the second half they allowed Benetton back into the game and the Italians won 24-22. I’m disappoint and angry at the same time because we let down by the same things we talk about, head coach Everitt said.
We put ourselves in a losing position – Benetton didn’t dominate and didn’t win, we lost. We lost our lineout five meters upfield when we could have put them to bed and they ended up kicking 100 yards down the field in the return, so it’s very disappointing for the boys.
“You can’t take away the effort that the team put in and from a discipline point of view we were fine at half-time with four penalties and four turnovers, but then early in the second half we conceded two penalties in a row which led to a try and then obviously , there was a weak moment at the end of the game that we couldn’t recover from.”
Scotland Six Nations Defender’s Transition
The soft spot that Everitt mentioned was a terrible mistake in the 68th minute from Kinghorn, who – under a bit of obvious pressure – got into trouble and awkwardly flicked the ball into the path of Marco Zanon, who fired home what turned out to be the deciding score night. The Scotland Six Nations defender, who will join Toulouse following a trip to Ulster next weekend, looked as if he left the Hive Stadium on a high as he scored two tries in the first half.
Everitt added: Blair did well with the high ball and played a good game. They can’t blame him for one mistake, because then we will have to blame everyone. We will all accept this as a team and coaching staff and move on.
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