Edinburgh Rugby’s latest signing, Jamie Ritchie, has been given the seal of approval by a coach who has seen him emerge through the youth thanks.
Chris Paterson’s all-embracing role as a Scottish rugby ambassador centres mainly on coaching up-and-comings, including 17-year-old back rower Ritchie who is currently in New Zealand with the Scotland under-20 squad.
Eyebrows were raised that someone of apparently such tender years could be fast-tracked from Strathallan School straight into the Edinburgh senior ranks but Paterson said: “I’ve worked with Jamie and he is a talented guy whose body is older than his years suggest. He is very well conditioned.
“Jamie’s really quick off the back of the scrum and passes at the right time. He’s typical of the many good young players coming through.”
Two years into his role, Scotland cap record holder Chris Paterson is now appraising ambitions as well as warning his former Edinburgh team there will be no shortcuts back to Europe’s top table.
The initial deal which put Paterson on the Murrayfield payroll after hanging up his boots has now expired. However, it is inconceivable the 36-year-old will not continue to be involved to inspire future generations using not only skills acquired in a career that saw him win 109 caps, but also using a backgroun
d in PE studies.
Speaking also at the recent launch of the RBS Rugby Force scheme which sees pro players devote a day to assisting traditional clubs in various projects, Paterson noted how many players he is assisting at age-group level are now coming through the ranks.
“I do a lot of work with under-16 and under-20 regional players on specialist skills and dovetail that working with them when they become national squad players.
“There’s a lot of individual one-on-one coaching as well as hooking up with schools who write in and ask if I will do a coaching session.
“I’ve also been doing one day a week coaching with Glasgow so I am mostly out in the field doing a whole raft of things I really enjoy.”
Given those remarks and the fact Paterson has already been on a fact-finding trip to New Zealand, the day must be closer when he will become increasingly involved in the professional game – and help do for Edinburgh what Gregor Townsend has done at Pro 12 finalists Glasgow.
“I played for 14 years as a professional and working with young players highlights the bits and pieces you pick up along the way,” said Paterson.
“But there is a huge amount I have also learned even since I stopped playing from different coaches and from being on the other side of training sessions. My role is developing the whole time and it is good to try to formalise things a bit. You are not institutionalised as a player but playing does focus the mind in that direction. I enjoy coaching.”
Paterson experienced the highs and lows with Edinburgh, including the bizarre 2011-12 season when the team finished second bottom of the domestic league but reached a European Cup semi-final.
“Most of the time you spend as a professional athlete is more about negatives than positives,” he said. “Records tell you my win rate was about 39 per cent. It’s how you deal with disappointment. It’s been a tough season for Edinburgh and I have been in seasons like that. It is just desire to work really hard that gets you out of it.
“It’s so, so complicated but the ability to work hard and do that extra bit is the most important thing for me.
“The more you do, the easier it is get out of the rut. Sometimes in a rut a break can work well as well as anything but times change really, really quickly.”