Starting his fledgling professional rugby career down in England’s south-west could be seen as an opportunity for Adam Hastings to forge his own path but the truth is that, wherever the oval-ball game is played, that surname of his is going to stick out.
The 19-year-old son of legendary former Scotland and Lions captain Gavin Hastings, and nephew of Scott of course, will make his first appearance for Scotland Under-20s tomorrow evening when they face England at Broadwood in the junior Six Nations opener.
The young Hastings was born in 1996, just after Gavin had retired from playing, but he has long been aware of his father’s towering reputation in Scotland and is comfortable with the obvious questions that are continually fired at him as he begins to make his own mark on the game.
“I’ve had it all my life and I’m totally used to it,” he said. “I guess moving down south helped me become my own person but, then again, to be honest, I’ve always been my own person.”
Asked to pick a favourite moment from his dad’s career he said: “I think the Grand Slam game obviously sticks out. I’ve certainly watched that video a few times and it’s definitely one of the happiest memories of his career I’d say.”
Hastings moved from George Watson’s College at the age of 16 to the famous Millfield School to further his rugby aspirations. The Somerset institution honed the young talents of Sir Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams and Chris Robshaw, to name a few, and also boasted once fielding a rugby team that included both future pop-picker-in-chief Tony Blackburn and veteran political reporter John Sergeant.
Hastings flourished at the school and said: “It’s a boarding school and you’re training almost every day as opposed to twice a week. It’s a lot more physical and intense down there. You just get immersed in rugby, which has been good.”
Having such an illustrious father is viewed by Adam as a source of inspiration rather than pressure and he cherishes the days when every weekend would see him out kicking goals with the man who plundered a mighty 667 points for Scotland.
It is stand-off rather than full-back that junior, who is now contracted to Bath Academy, has established himself after also enjoying football and athletics as a youngster.
The staunch Liverpool fan said: “I really enjoyed my football and I have some good memories from the Sunday league. But it was always rugby I enjoyed playing more.
“I started off at centre but quickly moved to stand-off as I liked to get the ball in my hands a bit more and not crashing up the middle into big boys all the time. I think my football helped me as it’s more of head-up game and that’s what you need at stand-off.”
After starring for Scotland Under-18s, Hastings was actually eligible to play for the Under-20s last year but took a break to focus on his exams. Yesterday he was named by coach John Dalziel in an experienced starting XV which includes 12 players with experience of last year’s Six Nations and Under-20 World Cup and is captained by Glasgow lock Scott Cummings.
Hastings’ Bath team-mate Zach Mercer, who was schooled at Merchiston but snapped up by England, has been named on the bench for tomorrow’s opponents. Hastings actually could have been eligible to play for the auld enemy, but when that is raised he breaks into a broad smile and says: “I think I would have been crucified if I had gone down that road.”
Hastings has represented Bath on the Singha Sevens series and been earning good reviews for his performances in the A league down south, while Scotland Under-20s are looking to build on an encouraging campaign last year when they won all three home games.
“I’m confident, I think we have a good team, there are some old heads on young shoulders in this group,” said the teenager. “There used to be a big gap between England and Scotland at this level but I think we have caught up more.”
Adam, whose younger sister Holly is in her final year at Watson’s, will be watched from the stands by his parents tomorrow and is champing at the bit for that whistle to blow.
“It’s always a big game when you play England, obviously with all the history and hype that surrounds it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s bigger or more important than the other games because every time you play for your country it should mean the same. But it will definitely be a challenge, the adrenaline might be pumping a bit more.”
As for Gavin, he said: “I’m excited for the opportunity that my son has and it’s all about gaining the experience.
“They had a good under-20 season last year, there’s a lot of talent there and hopefully they can build on that. I’ll be watching as many of the games as I can and I’ll be interested to see if there are any kids of guys I used to play against in the opposition teams.”
One kid of a former team-mate is on the Scottish bench, with scrum-half Charlie Shiel – son of former centre Graham – named as a replacement.