Capital teenager Robbie Nairn is on the road to success as he prepares for Scotland Under-20s duties in the World Cup and then a move to Harlequins in the coming months.
In recent weeks the 18-year-old has been concentrating on his driving test – which he came through successfully last Friday – and his upcoming school exams, but rugby is never far from the mind of this George Watson’s College pupil.
Having been a keen footballer in his younger years, Nairn came to rugby quite late when he was 14. At the time he was a pupil at Currie High School so he headed to his local club Currie and he has never looked back.
He began playing for the club at under-15 level and because of his raw pace and size he was put on the wing.
In 2013 the Currie Under-16s won the National Youth League Cup final against Hawick Albion with Nairn named man of the match.
“When we managed to win at Murrayfield I was excited as we were a really good side and a few of us were lucky enough to play for the district and Scotland at under-16 level,” Nairn recounts.
“Stuart Hogg also presented me with the man-of-the-match award and it started to make me realise that I could give rugby a real go. I was then offered the chance to go to George Watson’s for my final two years of school and myself and my family thought it would be good for my development.”
Under the watchful eyes of school under-18 coaches Ally Donaldson and Andy Barnett, Nairn became a member of the first XV squad in 2013/14 and soon made his mark.
He scored a try at BT Murrayfield as they lifted the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup by defeating the High School of Dundee 31-17.
Nairn, who is also a talented athlete, said: “It was quite daunting going into such a big school and I had to work hard for my place in the first XV, but the extra sessions with the coaches at lunchtimes helped me a lot and I think as the season went on I became more confident in my own ability.
“I was also involved in the Scotland Under-18 squad that year and that experience has helped me kick on this season.”
In 2014/15 Nairn has been the name on everyone’s lips in Scottish rugby. He scored two tries as his school team again won the Brewin Dolphin Scottish School Cup – beating Capital rivals Merchiston Castle in the final this time – and he has earned more caps for Scotland Under-18 and also turned out for Currie’s senior first XV.
“Playing for Currie in the BT Premiership was amazing. I was a bit nervous at first, but I enjoyed the outings and they really taught me about the physicality of senior rugby and how important it is to take your chances when they come as a winger,” he said.
“Off the back off the under-18 event in France in March and April I had a few discussions with Scotland Under-20s head coach Sean Lineen and he was keen to try and get me involved at that level.
“With the under-20s having such a good Six Nations with three wins I wasn’t sure if I’d make the squad for this summer’s World Championships in Italy, but when I got the call I was really chuffed.”
That event takes place in June and then Nairn will return to Edinburgh before again packing his bags and heading off to London where he will spend 2015/16 in the Harlequins Academy.
“It was a big decision for me and my family to make, but when we visited Harlequins and saw the facilities and the set-up there it just felt like the right place for me to continue my progress,” Nairn concluded.