Firrhill for thrills as Fife’s rugby career snowballs

Edinburgh Rugby's Dougie Fife has been called up to Scotand's Six Nations training squad. Pic: SNS
Edinburgh Rugby's Dougie Fife has been called up to Scotand's Six Nations training squad. Pic: SNS
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THE scene is Meggetland a decade or so ago and a couple of members from the Boroughmuir youth rugby squad are training hard in the hope of making a sporting impact.

Little did they know back then that February 2014 could be of special significance for each.

Along the way, these teenagers’ paths were to split and, while Murray Buchan waits to learn on Wednesday if he is in GB’s Winter Olympic squad for the men’s half-pipe snowboarding, Dougie Fife has a chance, starting at a training camp on Monday, to clinch a place in Scotland’s RBS Six Nations rugby squad.

Fife, a year older at 23, acknowledges the help both had in coming from Firrhill High School – where there was no school rugby team – and playing as guests of nearby Boroughmuir High and subsequently that club’s colts.

“Murray was always quite small, even for a scrum half,” said Fife. “But he could have gone on and done alright in rugby.

“There came a time when he had to make a choice and skiing took over.

“I was always keen to do something in rugby, especially after Boroughmuir provided ballboys for Scotland internationals and I was asked to go along. As the teams came out, we’d stand at the side of the tunnel and watch the tension and intensity on the players’ faces.

“I remember thinking back then ‘I’d like to do that one day’.

“Ball-boying meant you had pretty much the best seat in the house but there was concentration involved, too.

“It is quite nerve-wracking. You are quite young and aware of so many people watching.

“You know, too, that, if you muck up, the whole game stops.Then there are a lot of wee things you have to remember such as which hookers like you to dry the ball for them throwing in to the line-out if it’s a wet day and which ones dry the ball themselves.”

With the moment of progression from ball boy to Test star beckoning, interim Scotland coach Scott Johnson has no doubt the uncapped Fife can take the step up.

He said: “Dougie’s not in there to pick up (tackle) bags. He is good enough to do it. He’s been on our radar for some time in an area where we don’t have a great deal of depth.

“Dougie’s got a lot of confidence from performing well for Edinburgh against pretty battle-hardened opposition and he has stood up. He’s a big, strong, athletic kid. I like that.”

With Edinburgh visiting Munster on Sunday in the European Cup, Fife has one more chance to reinforce his claims, ideally as part of a team that posts the bonus-point win that will probably be required to clinch qualification for the second-tier Amlin Challenge Cup. Any try would be Fife’s sixth in eight Edinburgh games and he admits touchdowns haven’t done any harm in terms of attracting attention.

“When you are scoring tries you are doing your job as a winger,” he admitted.

“It’s what we try to do and I notice the Glasgow wingers have been scoring a lot which can only be good for Scotland.”

Informed that he needs a try in his next Pro12 outing to overtake a four-year-old record by Tim Visser in scoring for the fifth-successive league match, Fife said: “That’s not something I was aware of but I do know there is one big match to come then I can start enjoying my Scotland training call.

“Last weekend’s try against Perpignan was a bit nerve-wracking because, although I knew I’d scored, it still went to the video ref.

“Considering I had told all my Edinburgh colleagues the decision wasn’t in doubt, there was a bit of a worry I’d be left looking foolish. Looking back, it bobbled a bit so that was where the anxiety stemmed from.

“I’d knocked on just before scoring so there was a need to repay the team.”

Fife rates his try against Glasgow as his favourite this season given the sense of occasion attached to the annual inter-city.

Now rivals that day are fellow squad members and stand between him and an international call-up but first comes that encounter with Munster.

“When the fixtures came out and we had Munster in our pool we immediately expected it to be very physical.

“It will be even harder this weekend because they will want to get one over us for beating them at the start of the campaign at Murrayfield.

“But we can take a lot of confidence from not only beating Perpignan last weekend but having beaten Munster already this season.”

What’s certain is there will be an extra spring in Dougie Fife’s step when he runs out at Thomond Park and both he and former team-mate Buchan could see their careers snowball.