EDINBURGH have announced the signing of Scotland under-18 captain Jamie Ritchie.
The highly-rated Howe of Fife back-row player has been contracted straight from school at Strathallan into the capital club’s senior squad.
Ritchie has represented the Caledonia region and Scotland at under-16 and under-18 level, taking in two FIRA-AER European Championships (2013 and 2014), before being selected for this summer’s U20 squad for the Junior World Championships (JWC) in New Zealand, still aged 17.
Head coach Alan Solomons said: “Jamie is an absolutely outstanding young player and prospect.
“The manner in which he handled himself when he met the squad and staff, and his ability to handle the physicality of our sessions during a short trial, confirmed to me that he is ready to make this step.
“Important to him, I believe, was to understand our vision, which is to build a club through the medium of our academy of young Scottish players.
“When you add this to our new-look leadership group, which includes Grant Gilchrist, Matt Scott and David Denton, you can see that we have a very strong core of Scottish players coming through.
“I think Jamie understood this vision and believes the environment here at Edinburgh Rugby is best suited to realise his potential. We now have a strong group of fine young Scots coming through so that we could field an all Scottish under-23 squad, which is really, really exciting for the future of this club.
“Jamie is now going to be part of that, which I think is brilliant.”
Ritchie was also a silver-medallist at the British judo championships in 2009, was British independent schools judo champion in 2010 and played 1st XI cricket at his school.
He is one of four young players from Scotland’s JWC squad signed into the club’s senior squad for the coming season, with centre Chris Dean and wings Damien Hoyland and Jamie Farndale also competing for selection on their return.
Ritchie said: “I’m delighted to sign and to be given this opportunity.
“I didn’t dream of being offered a senior contract so obviously that, combined with what Alan Solomons has got planned for the club, makes it very exciting. At Edinburgh Rugby there are a lot of experienced, homegrown and overseas players, creating a great environment for a growing base of young Scots to learn and improve.
“You couldn’t ask for more as a young player from Scotland, being surrounded by your countrymen in a club that has real potential to go places over the next couple of seasons. The club has a quality back row with players like David Denton and Mike Coman in there as experienced leaders to learn from. Having been a captain myself, it’s something I want to develop in the future. Making that first appearance will be really big for me. It’ll then be about pushing on and getting some good performances under my belt. It’s all in my plan and it’s about working hard through the stages.”