Rugby: Jamie Farndale eyes big season with Edinburgh

Jamie Farndale playing for Edinburgh Academicals. Picture: Jane Barlow
Jamie Farndale playing for Edinburgh Academicals. Picture: Jane Barlow
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So much has happened since, that it must seem like a lifetime ago that Jamie Farndale broke into the Edinburgh Rugby team for a debut off the bench in the last away fixture of 2011/12.

But, having survived a baptism-of-fire visit to Cardiff City Stadium and then emerged stronger from a leg fracture several months later, the young winger is still a teenager and ready to “explode on to the pitch” if, and when, another opportunity comes to wear Capital colours.

In between the high and low of a first taste of pro rugby and a spell on the sidelines recovering from surgery, Farndale managed to make two tournament appearances for Scotland at the Under-20 World Championships, a competition he remains eligible for in the season ahead.

A big-game specialist, it is little wonder many shrewd judges are predicting that it is only a matter of time before the bagpipe-playing winger from Edinburgh Accies crashes into the RaboDirect and Heineken Cup scene.

Back in 2012, Farndale actually finished top try-scorer overall at the World Under-20s in South Africa despite an average showing from Scotland, and on returning to that stage in France this summer he showed his nose for the try-line was still sharp.

Starting four of the five games, Farndale notched tries against Argentina and Samoa.

No doubt mindful, though, that competition for a wing spot at Edinburgh comes from five players capped by Scotland – Tim Visser, Nikki Walker, Lee Jones, Jack Cuthbert and Tom Brown – Farndale is cautious about predicting an early outing while stressing he is back to fitness. He said: “We have a new coach arriving in Alan Solomons and, like everyone else, I am hoping to catch his eye on the pitch and in training.

“All we can ask is that coaches assess players on their merits, which I know will happen, but I am equally aware I have to earn that merit. One thing about my injury rehab was that I have effectively had two pre-season campaigns. First I had to prepare myself to make the under-20 squad and on returning to training with Edinburgh afterwards I have been heavily involved all the way through the current build-up.”

An under-20 place was always seen as a bonus for Farndale given the nature of his injury, but he rose to that challenge.

“I played every game out in France and had no [fitness] issues at all. Rugby-wise I was coming back into it after six or seven months so I was a bit rusty and there are things to work on. Now that I know I can play, though, I am ready to explode into the season.

“I feel confident enough and want to keep building on the work done on either side of that World Cup to really get to a high level. I have worn the Edinburgh jersey previously and got through that experience okay.”

There is another incentive for Farndale as he bids to join an elite band who have played at three junior global events. The 2014 tournament is being played in New Zealand where Scotland could face the hosts in a pool game.

Farndale said: “Taking on New Zealand on their own ground with the haka and a big crowd would be phenomenal.

“I really feel I can do well in the weeks ahead because I am now 7kgs heavier than I was before my injury but haven’t lost any pace.

“I’m also stronger mainly in the upper body but I’m also lifting heavier leg weights.

“Overall I am in the best shape of my rugby life and with the rustiness shaken out I can benefit also from the help I got from Sean Lineen who coached the under-20s in France.

“Sean is a good man for taking you aside and saying this, this and this is what you need to work on. Then he backs it up with video clips.”

If Edinburgh don’t require Farndale then he will certainly be needed in the Premiership at Accies for whom he was playing against Dundee High when his spiral fracture occurred.

“There will be British and Irish Cup rugby for Accies next season, with opposition of the calibre of London Welsh who were in the English Premiership not long ago,” he said.

“I was following, too, the planning application by Accies for a new stadium and the sooner it gets done, the better. Accies are already a great club with the right facilities. Now that teams are not changing in portakabins, they will be even better.”