Musselburgh rugby club will dedicate any success in the RBS National Shield final against Dunfermline at Murrayfield tomorrow to the memory of a young up-and-coming player killed in a tragic fall from Salisbury Crags last summer.
Calum Veitch, 17, was a richly promising prospect whose brother, Craig, is included in tomorrow’s squad by Brian Hughes who himself defied medical opinion that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair after suffering a broken neck playing rugby to not only walk again but develop an impressive coaching career.
It was, however, Burgh skipper James Doig who chose the build-up to the club’s first senior appearance on the international pitch to recall the contrast with the way in which this season started.
Said winger Doig, a 29-year-old maths teacher at Tranent’s Ross High School who has spent two decades with Musselburgh: “Hopefully we can make it a great day for the Veitch family.
“Not only is Craig on our bench but his dad, Robin, is continually helping out around the club particularly with refereeing duties. Calum had tremendous potential in our Colts and was a future first-team player without a doubt.
“It would be great for the Veitch family to see Craig running on to Murrayfield to help us get something positive with which to end this season.”
Coach Hughes, originally from Jedburgh, will be returning to an arena he graced back in 1984 with a Scotland Under-21 team including the likes of subsequent Lions Scott Hastings and Alan Tait.
Just over a decade later, playing for Jed-Forest against West, Hughes went into a tackle and his career ended suddenly and unexpectedly en route to a four-month stint in hospital.
Now he is using that experience positively and says: “I was expecting to retire soon after that match on my own terms but everything changed when an opponent stepped inside my tackle causing me to place my neck on the wrong side.
“After being told I’d never walk again anything else was always going to be a bonus which is why I get such pleasure from being involved in coaching – admittedly more when we win!
“I keep stressing to the Musselburgh players to make the most of any time they have on the pitch because I didn’t know my career was about to stop just like that.
“Coaching is enjoyable but a poor excuse for playing, however, so I hope everybody makes the most of this opportunity against Dunfermline.”
While Musselburgh have southern hemisphere influence in the form of full back Liam Draycott, hooker Rory Chesham, second row Paddy Kirkland and flanker Josh Allan – all of whom pitched up at their own expense as part of an overseas travel programme – many of the rest of the side are home grown and the product of an excellent youth structure.
There is, though, a connection with nearby Queen Margaret University which has contributed James Murray, an Irishman of whom fellow winger, Doig, says: “James is definitely capable of taking centre stage at Murrayfield.
“He started off in our thirds and was quickly promoted when Brian Hughes spotted his potential to finish moves.”
Musselburgh, who have gained promotion from National League Division One, know not to take anything for granted even though they won comfortably at Dunfermline in the league.
“We were 21-6 up at home to Dunfermline and went down to a defeat which effectively cost us a title.
“That will also help motivate us tomorrow,” says Doig.