Rugby: Currie to add a bit of gloss to Matt’s cap
Currie rugby club are set to honour the first player to complete a journey through their entire ranks to full international status following Matt Scott’s emergence to represent Scotland in last weekend’s Six Nations clash with Ireland.
Both hooker Graham Ellis and three-quarter Ben Cairns have provided Currie with links to the Test scene but stand-off/centre Scott, 21, who made his debut from off the bench in Dublin, is the first to have taken up rugby at the club and progressed from the mini-section upwards.
Proud Currie coach Ally Donaldson said: “With everything happening so quickly from when Matt was taken to Dublin as a travelling reserve to being called up to the bench when Nick De Luca pulled out just before the match to finally replacing the injured Lee Jones after an hour has meant the club haven’t had time to plan exactly how we’ll recognise the achievement.
“But in due course we will honour a player who has been with the club from the start and who actually played in our first Premiership match of this season – against Gala.”
Donaldson was in Dublin coaching the Scottish clubs’ international team that played Irish counterparts on Friday night which is when he got wind that Scott could be elevated to the full Scotland bench.
“I actually had a coffee with Matt, whom I have known virtually all his life, on the Friday afternoon and told him that if Nick De Luca was struggling to be fit and he was called up I’d try to change my Saturday flight home to be at the Aviva Stadium because his mum and dad wouldn’t be able to get over at such short notice.
“In the event, my flight couldn’t be changed and in any case I only got confirmation of Matt’s involvement soon after I arrived back when I received a text message.
“Gav Scott [Scotland’s video analyst and ex-Currie player] got in touch to say Matt would be on the bench. I immediately telephoned Matt’s dad, Sean, who played full-back for Currie, to alert him.
“All Sean could say after Matt got on the pitch was that it felt surreal for him as someone still heavily involved as a youth coach to see his son progress to the Scotland team so quickly after turning pro.
“It is just great for Matt and all families who are involved in Currie rugby. Everyone is really proud of the fact he started with us and there haven’t been many who have done what he has while still an SRU Elite Development player.”
Scott’s debut for Edinburgh came away to Cardiff in the opening match of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 League season and four games later he marked his 21st birthday with a try in a home win over Munster.
Donaldson added: “It was the World Cup, when players were away, that gave him a chance with Edinburgh. Hopefully, he will inspire other young guys coming through that they can see a pathway.
“In the past year, Matt and Lee Jones have come up from the club’s international team to the full side and that is a source of pride to me, too, as the clubs’ international coach. There is further encouragement to be taken from the fact that Matt was only third or fourth choice for Edinburgh’s under-18 team as a stand-off and he didn’t make any national age-group side before the under-19s.
“So, others will now be able to see what can be achieved by continuing to work on their skills the way Matt has.”
A law student at Edinburgh University, Matt made his debut for Currie at Melrose on his 18th birthday and a week after he was in a Currie Colts side who beat Livingston.
“With due respect there is a world of difference between playing Livingston Colts and Melrose at The Greenyards,” said Donaldson, adding: “Graham Hogg [ex-internationalist and another Currie coach] had watched Matt for the Colts a couple of weeks beforehand and was pushing hard to get him involved in training with the 1sts.
“I could tell he was real quality with his footballing skills and ability to beat a man.
“Defensively he is very strong, too, and if his kicking skills are a work in progress, then it is a credit as very few get capped in their first season as a professional.
“Edinburgh are using him at centre where he maybe has less touches on the ball but he could end up back at stand-off because he is a very skilful all-round player.”
In reaching the top, Scott has made just 13 starts for Edinburgh in addition to five appearances from off the bench.
Now he must wait to learn whether he will retain his place for Saturday’s vital encounter with Italy in Rome when Scotland are bidding to avoid a wooden spoon.
Coach Andy Robinson is due to name his line-up tomorrow.