Robbie rise shows talent exists in Scottish rugby

Robbie Nairn will represent Scotland Under-18s this weekend
Robbie Nairn will represent Scotland Under-18s this weekend
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One of the conundrums of Scottish rugby is how talented individuals can continue to be produced – yet translating that into success for the national side remains a struggle as bottom place in the current RBS Six Nations table shows.

Examples of rising stars include Jamie Farndale finishing a recent global under-20 tournament as overall top try-scorer while, at the age of 20, Andy Cramond has broken through into European champions Toulon’s top team this season.

Latest evidence that the darkest hour might just be before dawn is provided by Robbie Nairn, a current under-18 cap, who has just scooped a BT Premiership try-of-the-month accolade.

Making the winger’s nomination all the more remarkable is the fact it came in only his second senior appearance, for Currie, against Scottish Cup holders Heriot’s.

What’s more, the scoring pass was delivered by Richard Snedden, a PE teacher at Watson’s College where Robbie is a pupil.

“Yes, it is definitely a case of ‘Mr Snedden’ from Monday to Friday and ‘Sneds’ on a Saturday afternoon – a bit strange, really,” laughs Robbie.

However, when it comes to rugby, generally, Robbie is deadly serious.

“About 18 months ago, I had to make a decision between athletics (he is a Scottish schools shot putt champion) or rugby.

“I could have tried to split my time 50/50 between sports but a career in rugby is a goal and, although playing for Currie has been a step up, I hope I can carry benefits into the Scottish under-18s game against England in Newcastle on Sunday.

“The try against Heriot’s was all the more of a surprise for coming in only my second game for the club. I said at the start of the season I wanted to focus on Scotland under-18s and winning the Brewin Dolphin Schools Cup with Watson’s but I have also wanted to challenge myself.

“I spoke with Ally Donaldson, who is our school’s director of rugby but also has affiliations with Currie, and he got me to Malleny Park to train.

“This led to a debut against Boroughmuir when I did all right and kept my place against Heriot’s.

“I feel I haven’t looked back and the time I spent in shot putting has definitely helped in terms of physicality.”

Robbie also has strong sporting genes; grandfather Malcolm Finn was an accomplished hurdler and mum Pauline was ranked No.1 in Scotland at long jump.

The 6ft 3in, 15st 12lbs prospect said: “My dad played rugby for Boroughmuir and I couldn’t have asked for more support.

“Away from family, though, it is encouraging to see former team-mates Jake Kerr, Ally Miller and Ben Robbins come out of school and earn development contracts with Edinburgh.

“I played with them when entering Watson’s first team and saw for myself the standards they set. With their example, I have gone on to put my own markers down.”

Commitment to the Scotland under-18s rules Robbie out of Currie’s vital BT Premiership clash with Ayr on Saturday when winning their game in hand with a try bonus could leave them level with Gala in the fourth play-off spot going into the last round of fixtures.

But he will be keeping a close eye on the outcome with a view to renewing acquaintances later in the club season.