FROM exploring Greenland to wearing the traditional green-and-blue colours of Boroughmuir is a journey being experienced by one of the most exciting prospects in Scottish rugby.
And tomorrow, back rower Jamie Swanson expects to add to his sporting education with a third successive outing against a former champion side when Currie are the visitors to Meggetland.
Being cast into the hurly burly of the Premiership is a daunting prospect for any teenager, but part of Swanson’s ability to retain his place may stem from the most rigorous of outward-bound assignments last year.
“I was part of a school party which headed for the Arctic on an expedition to discover parts of Greenland,” recalled Swanson.
“What we discovered while living under canvas 1000 kilometres from anywhere else in the world, and doing some scientific research on plants, were three mountains which hadn’t previously been climbed . . .
“Those peaks and a polar bear which gave us a brief scare before disappearing back into the tundra!”
If the polar bear encounter, albeit from long range, puts the sight of a rampaging opponent bearing down into perspective then Swanson nevertheless made his mark on the planet by being allowed to name one of the mountains.
“My parents have a house in Nairn which translates from its Gaelic name to “Beautiful Aspect” and that seemed appropriate for a location we found ourselves in looking out on to the polar ice cap.”
Swanson’s adventure came towards the end of life at Glasgow Academy and prior to moving to the Capital to study Sports Science at Edinburgh University. By then his abilities with the Scotland under-17 rugby team had put him on the SRU radar and he credits Edinburgh Regional Academy coach Ben Fisher with helping guide him towards a club he previously captained.
“Ben is Boroughmuir through and through but I also had a few friends at the club so that helped me settle quickly.
“However, I soon picked up an ankle injury and that, coupled with the step up from schoolboy rugby, meant it was the tail-end of last season before I got a first-team debut in a Scottish Cup quarter-final at Dundee High.”
Although still under-18, he was in the frame for Scotland under-20 honours, but that ankle knock put paid to age-group Six Nations aspirations before fate lent a hand.
“There was a late call-off in a Scotland under-20 A side to face Japan and I must have done all right because on the basis of that match I found myself at last summer’s world championships in Italy.”
There he lined up against South Africa in the opening match and came off the bench against England, Tonga and Argentina. “Around Christmas the latest under-20 squad will go into camp and I obviously hope to be involved but just getting game time and continuing to enjoy rugby with Boroughmuir are my goals just now.
“There is a good buzz and taking a losing bonus point away to a very good Melrose team last week added to that feelgood.
“Now come Currie and experiencing derby matches is something I’m not really used to having grown up playing in Glasgow, so it all adds to a very positive experience and will hopefully give me an edge.”
For the clash Boroughmuir have Ally Davidson starting at lock forward with Greg Scott dropping to the bench under a rotation policy while Graeme Blackhall comes on to the bench after returning from long-term injury and a couple of good performances for the reserves.
Currie make one change to the squad which defeated Heriot’s with fit-again Mark Cairns replacing Malcolm Peacock on the bench.
Heriot’s shake up their side for a Goldenacre clash with an unchanged Ayr, home coach Graham Marshall remarking: “With Struan Dewar back from Scotland sevens training at No. 8 we have a re-vamped back row with Jason Hill moving to blindside flanker and Matt Reid to open side. The other change is that Cammy Ferguson moves to the centre with Michael Goldie at stand-off. Exciting prospect Sam Hidalgo-Clyne moves up to the bench.” Elsewhere, Edinburgh Accies head for Stirling with winger Matt Coupar and prop forward Kenny Blyth recalled.
Despite a 25-0 victory over Hawick last week coach Simon Cross says: “Our attack needs to step up in terms of accuracy and potency; I’m hoping that Matt Coupar’s introduction can spark that.”
After a good win over Aberdeen last week Stirling coach Eddie Pollock brings in Peter Murchie at full back for the unavailable Ben Addison and Bengy Barsanti starts in the back row after strong performances off the bench in that morale-boosting victory.