Every now and then a player comes along whose mere touch of a rugby ball creates a buzz of excitement.
The latest to follow the likes of Iwan Tukalo and Stuart Hogg is fresh faced 18-year-old George Horne who, even in the gloom of the shortest day, shone like a beacon from full back as his Currie team drew 17-17 at Heriot’s in an entertaining – if error-strewn – contest that was nothing if not sternly refereed.
In matches like that, where frustrations can easily boil over as play struggles to break out between blasts on the whistle, Horne’s eye for a gap was the ultimate Christmas bonus for a vociferous crowd who added to the atmosphere.
The good news is that Horne, younger brother of Glasgow and Scotland threequarter, Peter, has no intention of playing it any other way albeit he has sensibly scaled back from when, on the opening day, he impressed this observer as trying to run everything . . . from anywhere.
“I like to have a go (and) it’s kind of my game,” said the lad who started out at mini rugby with Howe of Fife and has arrived in the seniors this season via a scholarship to Strathallan School.
George added: “Growing up my dad and brother always told me to back myself to have a go. When it is on, that is. I like to take players on and sometimes I can be bad for it because maybe I try to do too much.
“However, being at Currie is definitely developing different aspects of my game and while I prefer stand-off being at full back is allowing me to express abilities in different ways.”
An example of Horne’s potential came when he skipped past a couple of defenders while hemmed in at the touchline and looked set to go the whole way to the try-line only for the move to be recalled for an earlier forward pass.
As it was, his try – a sixth of the season for Currie – was delayed only minutes as he got in position to take a pop pass and dart in before adding the conversion.
Horne’s footwork was a timely reminder that the “Strictly” final was only a few hours away and Scottish rugby is to be commended for not only attaching him to the Institute of Sport for special training but drafting this crowd-pleaser into an extended national under-20 squad a year early for the upcoming Six Nations.
The game may have its ups and downs but where there are George Horne’s there is hope.
Rugby is for all shapes, though, and in opposition ranks a 23-year-old prop continues to prosper albeit any intimidatory element was curtailed by the need to go to uncontested scrums due to Currie injuries..
Step forward Nathan Borel, a Frenchman studying in Edinburgh and who, it transpires, was reared on tales of a notorious front row in the Bordeaux-Begles club he represented at Espoir, ie youth, level.
During the 1990s Serge Simon, Vincent Moscato and Philippe Gimbert wreaked havoc up to Test level and Borel recalls: “Yes, I know of them and how they sometimes were a little bit crazy.
“A little bit idiot but very, very good. Everybody treated them as legends and I only ever played prop myself.”
The mood of Borel darkened, however, when referring to how spoils had been shared on Saturday.
“For us it feels like a loss although it was better in the second half,” he said.
A scintillating try on half time from Edinburgh pro Sam Hidalgo-Clyne in blazing 70 metres up the touchline pulled Heriot’s back from 0-10 and even when Currie, who had gone ahead through a Horne penalty and a Dave Cherry touchdown, went 17-5 in front the hosts showed character.
Cammy Ferguson reduced the deficit out wide then, in the 79th minute, Ruaraidh Carmichael blasted through under the posts, Graham Wilson converting. The teams clash again at Malleny Park in the Edinburgh Regional Cup Final on January 11 and appetites for that meeting have certainly been whetted with Currie now seven in-a-row unbeaten and for Heriot’s the Cup representing their only realistic chance of silverware having effectively been knocked out of the league race by Christmas after being held by Currie.
Mind you, it did seem like April Fool’s Day when the Goldenacre announcer signed off with a reminder that the “next home league match is on March 1”. Such is the nonsensical state of Scottish club rugby fixture planning . . . making the emergence of swashbuckling types like George Horne all the more important for lifting the spirits.
Heriot’s: Tries: Hidalgo-Clyne, Ferguson, Carmichael. Conversion: Wilson.
Currie: Tries: Cherry, Horne. Conversions: Horne (2). Penalty: Horne.
Heriot’s: S Hidalgo-Clyne, M Nimmo. K Buchan, C Ferguson, C Goudie, R Carmichael, S Kennedy, N Borel. G Turner, G Cameron, R Nummo, M Douglas, J Turley, captain, A Henderson. Subs. – S Mustard, C Mulligan, H Boisseau, G Wilson, O Brown.
Currie: G Horne, H Elms, R Smith, A Alexander, M Peacock, J Semple, R Snedden, J Cox, D Cherry, A Hamilton, G Temple. P Neascu, M Vernal, R Weston, M Cairns.
Subs: S McInally, G Carson, C McLean, K Main, S Lyons.
Referee: J Matthew