Jamie Ritchie happy to play the fatherly role at Edinburgh
He may still be one of the younger members of the Edinburgh squad but Jamie Ritchie is getting used to being sought out by a more senior team-mate for advice in the coming weeks.
Fellow flanker Hamish Watson, 26, became a father for the first time at the weekend when his partner gave birth to a daughter but that still leaves him one behind Ritchie, who is already a dad of two, Oscar and Ava, at the age of 22.
“It is the first time he has asked me for advice,” said Ritchie with a smile. “Congratulations to Hamish on his little girl. He will be a very good father and I don’t know how much advice I can offer. The best bit of advice I got was try and work it out for yourself.”
While Watson had the weekend off, allowing Ritchie to take the No.7 jersey in the 30-29 defeat by Ulster in Belfast last Friday, the younger wing forward had a more hectic introduction to fatherhood four years ago.
“My first start for Edinburgh [against Leinster in 2014] was the same day as my son was born,” he recalled. “It has run along with me playing more for Edinburgh and hopefully I have matured more on the pitch as well as off the field at the same time. I certainly don’t go out as much as the other guys. It is a busy household for us. It is great and to me it is a great thing to have someone happy to see me when I go home. No matter how rubbish or hard a day you have had it is lovely to go home and get a cuddle off someone.”
He may still only be 22 but Ritchie, who amassed an impressive 18 appearances for Scotland Under-20s, is now in his fifth season as a pro and won his first two senior caps against Canada and Argentina over the summer. He was back in the starting line-up to make his 50th appearance for Edinburgh at Ulster.
“Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “I was a bit gutted to only get ten minutes the week before. I think that was down to circumstance and nothing in particular. To get a full 80 was good and I felt I went reasonably well but obviously I was not happy with the result.
“This is my fifth season now and I played once for Edinburgh in my first season which was 2014. It doesn’t feel like 50 games later. They have all flown by. It is great getting such a milestone now hopefully I can look forward to the next 50.
“I am honoured and thankful to Edinburgh for giving me a chance to play at such a young age. Hopefully I can do enough to keep playing.”
Those two opening defeats at Ospreys and Ulster has Edinburgh hungry for points in their first home Guinness Pro14 match of the season against Connacht at BT Murrayfield tomorrow evening, though Ritchie insists the squad are far from panic stations.
“We built up a reputation last season about being a team that was hard to beat,” he said. “We have a hard edge around us which we probably lacked in the past. When I first started we were quite happy with being a hard team to beat but being on the wrong end of a result. Obviously nobody likes to lose regardless but since Cockers [head coach Richard Cockerill] has arrived we have built up a reputation and gained some respect. Now we have to deal with that.”