In times of trouble it is often the nation’s youth that are expected to step up to the plate and come of age and Edinburgh’s rugby team have turned to a trio of talented Scotland age-grade players to play their part in the post-lockdown future.
Stand-off Nathan Chamberlain, back-rower Ben Muncaster and tighthead prop Dan Gamble have all penned FOSROC Stage 3 Academy contracts moving into professional deals with the capital club.
The most recognisable name will be that of Chamberlain, the stand-off who scored a hat-trick of tries in that remarkable 52-17 rout of Wales Under-20s in Colwyn Bay, which proved to be one of the last games to take place, behind closed doors, before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic forced sport into shutdown.
Chamberlain, 20, joins from Bristol Bears, Muncaster, 18, moves from Leicester Tigers, while Kelso-produced prop Gamble, 19, signs having featured for Heriot’s in Super 6.
On Chamberlain, Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill said: “Nathan has played in the Bristol system and for Hartpury University and has been part of the [Scotland] under 20s.
“We have been looking to bring someone through and he has done very well this year. He was keen to come up and join us and I was keen to give him the opportunity to develop a succession plan moving forward for that position and other positions in the squad.
“Obviously, this year he has done well with the 20s. We look forward to having him and him working hard. His stage three contract will turn into a pro contract. We’re not just looking at one year, but looking to develop a player who will push to be part of our team and move up.”
Cockerill said he was viewing Chamberlain with interest before that stunning hat-trick in Wales at the start of March.
“I had been looking and having discussions for a little while now,” said the coach. “I was very pleased that every time he played for Scotland he got better and better in every game. It was a great performance and a good win for the team on that night and his contribution was fundamental. I watched him at Gala against France [in the U20 Six Nations] and have been watching with interest for a while.”
With Simon Hickey leaving the club, Chamberlain will bolster Edinburgh’s playmaking options while serving his apprenticeship.
“There are three guys there who we see potential in. We will give them the time to develop, come through and hopefully get an opportunity to play for us if they work hard enough and they are good enough,” said Cockerill of the new recruits.
Gamble, the 19-year-old from Kelso in that most specialist of positions, tighthead prop, now has the opportunity to drive for a place in that dark blue No 3 jersey currently shared by WP Nel and Zander Fagerson.
“He is very young but the one thing we have to do is put these guys on longer-term contracts and develop them,” said Cockerill.
“He’s got a really good pedigree from school and age-grades, he’s a very mobile and physical ball carrier, and his set-piece is good for his age and we need to develop that.
“He’s doing that with the first team, training hard with the guys that we have – and I’ve got a plan together for developing him over the next few years and hopefully by the time he gets to his early 20s, he’s a regular for us and playing for Scotland, no different to Fagerson at Glasgow.
“He’s a very good player from good farming stock in Kelso, and he wants to play for Scotland. He’s determined to do that, but I have told him he has to be good enough to play for Edinburgh first, and we’re working on that. We’re looking forward to seeing his development.”
Back-row Muncaster makes the move north from Leicester Tigers, having been a member of the English Premiership club’s academy set-up since the age of 14.
Born in North Berwick, Muncaster earned a scholarship to Rugby School at an early age and he impressed enough to be picked up by Tigers.
On moving to Edinburgh, the 18-year-old – who has represented Scotland at under-18 and under-19 levels – said: “I’m extremely excited to be joining this club.
“I grew up in North Berwick and have always loved Edinburgh as a city, so to be joining the professional rugby team is a dream come true.
“Edinburgh are obviously a very strong team with a great culture. They have some exceptional players that I have looked up to for many years. I’ll hopefully try to learn from them as much as I can, certainly in the back row.
“It is such an honour to have been given an opportunity like this, I am very grateful for it, and I want to make the absolute most of it.”
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