EDINBURGH RUGBY star Ross Ford has declared his Scotland captaincy to be greater than being included in the British and Irish Lions Test team two years ago.
The 27-year-old hooker has got the nod for the forthcoming RBS Six Nations Championship partly on the back of two winning performances at the helm for Edinburgh this season, the 22-11 Rabo Direct Pro 12 league win at Benetton Treviso and the following match when London Irish were repelled 20-19 to open the now historic Heineken European Cup campaign.
However, there is a certain symmetry between Ford landing his national appointment and touring with the Lions.
Ford got the Lions call in 2009 Ford when Irish hooker Jerry Flannery withdrew from the original party and this time round injury ruled out Kelly Brown, who was coach Andy Robinson’s first pick.
Ford brings with him the experience of 53 caps and that Lions sojourn to South Africa which he remembers as a superb career milestone while also insisting: “The Scotland captaincy is the biggest honour I have had to date.”
Under a mentoring scheme sponsored by ex-internationalist turned businessman Sir Bill Gammell in 2008, useful contacts saw Ford teamed up with Sean Fitzpatrick and the 1987 World Cup winner and All Black leader will undoubtedly be another rich source to turn to should he be required.
But for the moment Ford says he will take inspiration from the man in charge when he made his Scotland debut as a replacement against Australia in 2004 – Jason White. Speaking from Scotland’s training camp in St Andrews Ford recalled: “When I first entered the Scotland dressing-room the captain was Jason White and he is a very good example of how I’d like to perform in the role.
“When I speak it will hopefully be saying things that make an impact. I will just be trying to lead by example. There is a lot of experience around me and during the game I’ll chat with the half backs, for example and see how they think things are going.”
Adding to Ford’s credentials is the fact that to reach this landmark he came through dark days when sheer enthusiasm saw him officially diagnosed by team medics as having “over training syndrome” and he was ordered to rest after the 2011 Six Nations.
Ford reflects on what he learned then, saying: “It is about performing on the pitch at weekends and knowing when to step back and have confidence in your ability to do it without actually practising.”
Similarly, questions about what he took from his Lions tour brings this answer: “It is a completely different thing working with boys you don’t normally work with and seeing that rugby is still a simple game about doing the basics well under pressure. If you had asked me two or three years ago if I’d be happy to take on the Scotland captaincy Id have been apprehensive. Now, I’m, at the stage where I feel very comfortable about doing it and confident that what I’ve got to say can help the group.
“It is about understanding the game through different experiences and bringing that to the table. A couple of years ago I maybe wasn’t as rounded a player so now I am better placed to do this job well.”
Meanwhile, at Ford’s old school, Kelso High, they are today entitled to award themselves a gold star for spotting leadership qualities – they made him Head Boy.