MIKE TYSON, the self-proclaimed baddest man on the planet, is a keen pigeon fancier; Formula One star Fernando Alonso is an enthusiastic magician with a particular passion for card tricks; and perhaps most bizarrely of all, Cristian Ronaldo reputedly took up Bingo when he was given a DVD version of the game as a present for Christmas during his time at Manchester United and hasn’t stopped playing it since.
“It can be very exciting because you can be there waiting for a long time for just the one number to make the game complete. Then you see one of your friends you are playing against get his lucky number before you,” Ronaldo allegedly told a Portuguese newspaper.
Not to be outdone, Edinburgh full-back Jack Cuthbert has found a peculiar pastime of his own. He has gone into business baking flatbreads and selling them in local markets. It is not the sort of side-line you would expect from a hulking rugby player, but Cuthbert has always prided himself on being able to march to his own beat.
“They [flatbreads] are a cross between a tortilla wrap that you use for your fajitas and a focaccia, but I’ve taken it as far as being able to mix it up and make sweet ones and savoury ones and combinations of different flavours,” explains the 26-year-old, who has spent the summer recovering from a knee injury, but has been declared fit to wear the number fifteen jersey in his club’s final pre-season outing against Newcastle Falcons at Mansfield Park in Hawick tonight.
“My shirt sponsor two years ago was closely linked to a patisserie chef who I ended up becoming close friends with and who taught me how to do a little bit of baking, so I started to run a market stall [called FlatJacks] at the top of Broughton Street and also in Stockbridge on Sunday mornings.
“I started it, really, to keep me sane during the quiet months when I was rehabbing my knee,” he continues. “I couldn’t get away on holiday because I needed to work on my injury and I had a lot of lonely times at Murrayfield, so once I’d done the bulk of my recovery I thought I would like to try something different.
“It’s a very individual thing. Everyone is different. Personally, I need something to focus on. I’m studying [Natural Sciences] at the moment, part-time at the Open University, and FlatJacks is just another thing that can keep my mind off the rugby whilst my mind should be off the rugby.”
Now that he is back playing, and with the season about to get deadly serious when Edinburgh’s Guinness Pro 12 campaign gets under way when mighty Munster come calling at Murrayfield next Friday night, Cuthbert plans to cut back on his baking so that he can concentrate on his day job.
“The ideal situation would be to do it once every six weeks or so. If we have a game on a Friday night then maybe do something on Sunday morning, but I haven’t really thought any more beyond that. It’s something I may pursue someday but not any time soon. It is all about the rugby going forward,” he says.
With that in mind, Cuthbert reports that he has no lingering concerns about the knee injury he picked up playing for Scotland in the London Sevens back in May. And, despite missing last week’s encounter against Leicester Tigers, he is confident that his all-round fitness is exactly where it needs to be if he is to see off the challenge from new signing Nick McLennan in the battle to be Edinburgh’s first choice full-back.
“I made a relatively quick recovery but didn’t want to rush back too soon. However, I’ve been training with the squad for a month, and prior to that I was working hard with Johan [Pretorius] and the conditioning squad. So I feel fit and well and the body is definitely ready to go,” he insists.
“We’ve got Carl Bezuidenhout as well, so full-back is a fairly well contested position this year. Fortunately, I’ve got my opportunity to do something about it this weekend and I’m going to do my best to make the most of it. I think it is healthy for a squad to have competition across all fronts.”
“We’re looking for a more solid performance this weekend,” Cuthbert continues. “It’s less about giving everyone an opportunity and more about seeing the game-plan take shape. One thing the coaches have talked about a lot is our kicking game so that is something we are going to be looking to keep sharp this weekend.
Edinburgh coach Alan Solomons has retained Greig Tonks at stand-off for tonight’s encounter so as to give the former full-back as much time as possible in his new position after six months out with a shoulder injury, while Sam Hidalgo-Clyne gets an opportunity to show what he can do at scrum-half.
Hometown boy Rory Sutherland will be at loose-head prop, after coming through a baptism of fire on his professional debut against the Tigers last weekend.