Jamie Ritchie on wedding bells, his thwarted Scotland captaincy and embracing the new era at Edinburgh
The 25-year-old will marry his childhood sweetheart Millie in Ayrshire on Saturday after their plans to wed last summer were scuppered by lockdown restrictions.
Ritchie had negotiated with Richard Cockerill to have a week off for the wedding but the latter’s departure meant the flanker had to clear it with new coach Mike Blair.
“When I told Mike that he was like, ‘can you come in on the Friday?’ I don’t know what that tells you!” said Ritchie.
“We have been engaged for a while - I think we got engaged around Christmas 2016. The wedding has been on the cards but obviously Covid postponed it for a bit. It’s good and I'm excited and I’ve planned it quite well - I turned 25 on Monday so I’ll remember my 25th wedding anniversary because it will coincide with my 50th birthday.”
Ritchie has already packed a lot into his personal and professional life. He and Millie are parents to Oscar and Ava and the Edinburgh openside was appointed Scotland captain for the summer tour to Romania and Georgia under the auspices of Blair, who was interim head coach while Gregor Townsend was away with the Lions. The only snag was that Covid put paid to that too and Ritchie will have to wait a little longer for the chance to skipper his country.
“It was obviously a bit frustrating, but it was a good opportunity for me in terms of getting an idea of how I might want to lead if I got the opportunity again,” he said.
“There were a few curveballs thrown at us in terms of having to isolate, games being cancelled and stuff like that. It was a good learning experience for me and probably for Mike as well. It was a good opportunity for us to work together.
“We would have liked to get at least one game but it wasn’t to be. But I’m still undefeated as captain. Long may it continue.”
The cancellation of the tour at least allowed him more time to recover from a long, gruelling season and Ritchie has returned refreshed, ready to embrace a new chapter at Edinburgh. The club will play their first match at their purpose-built stadium when Newcastle come calling and the arrival of Blair has injected renewed enthusiasm into the squad.
“We have made a real effort as a group to do more stuff together in terms of coaches and players,” Ritchie explained. “A few more things have been organised in terms of fun stuff. Before we came back in the guys were off paintballing.
“There are a couple of other things organised, just to get guys are enjoying themselves again and looking forward to the new season, the new stadium, the new coach, crowds coming back. The boys are in a really good place.
“We needed a break after our 52-week season. Everyone needed time away but the boys have come back firing, which is great.”