After retiring, a bit of feet-up time is natural, but months of lockdown have pushed it a bit far for Ruaridh Jackson.
The 32-year-old decided to call time on his career when the season shut down earlier in the year but has had few things to take his mind off the long, endless days through the summer.
First and foremost is the imminent arrival of he and wife Kirsten’s first child, which, at the time of speaking to him, was ten days overdue.
He has also agreed to take part in a cycling challenge next month with three old rugby mates in aid of Doddie Weir’s My Name’5 Doddie Foundation and Unite Against Cancer.
Jackson will join Richie Vernon, the first man to go to World Cups for Scotland as a forward then a back, Ryan Grant, the former Scotland prop and 2009 Lions tourist and Andrew Easson, the former Edinburgh and Scotland Sevens player, who retired early with a knee injury, in cycling the entire Caledonian Way.
After a second spell at Glasgow following time at Harlequins and Wasps and a 33-cap Scotland career between 2010 and 2018, Jackson is swapping boots for lycra and looking forward to the challenge, in which the quartet are aiming for £5,000 but hoping to surpass that figure.
“Ryan and Richie had planned to do the cycle and, when I retired, they quickly tried to rope me in,” said Jackson. “I didn’t give it too much thought in terms of the distance and how hard it would be, so I agreed. The four of us have never been big bike riders except for the bits and pieces you do with fitness training, so it will be a challenge.
“We thought about the charities and MND was an obvious one with Doddie [pictured] and what he’s going through and has achieved in the past few years since being diagnosed. It’s been awesome, so we wanted to help out in some way, shape or form. That was an easy choice.
“The other charity we’re helping is Unite Against Cancer, which is one I’ve been an ambassador with for a number of years. It’s a local Glasgow one. I got to know the guy who runs it, Colin Smith.
“His brother passed away when he was 17 with a rare bone cancer. So they do lots of research into cures, treatments and care.”
An already tough test has been made tougher as the four have set a goal of doing the trek as quickly as they can.
“It’s 234 miles, maybe a bit longer if we get lost! We go from Campbeltown to Inverness, finishing at Highland Rugby Club,” he said.
“It’s usually a route done over a good few days but we’ve challenged ourselves to do it in two. It could be interesting.”
His rugby career may be over but it is interesting times indeed for Jackson.
“I’m in Glasgow and it’s been good to come up with this idea, which has given me something to focus on during the pandemic,” said the Northampton-born, Aberdeen-raised now former utility back. He praised the NHS for the care given to his wife at such a difficult time.
“They’ve been great and Kirsten has had regular midwife appointments and stuff like that.
“She’s coping pretty well. It’s been a strange old time but we know some sleepless nights are coming,” he said.
Jackson is one of many players who were denied a full season before taking his bow and added: “It’s not how I planned to go out.
“But I’ve been chatting to the guys as they have gone back in for their fitness work and I’m certainly not missing that, having to go back for fat testing.
“I’ve been enjoying some lazy days but that’s going to change with the baby and the bike.
“Once the games start, I’ll probably start feeling a few pangs of missing things.”
As for the future, a new child and gruelling bike ride is enough to be going on with for now but Jackson hopes to remain connected with rugby in some way heading forward.
“I have done bits of BBC radio in the past, so I’d be open for that,” added Jackson.
“I’m keen to get back watching the boys at Glasgow and Scotland and seeing how they progress because I think it’s going to be an interesting year with some new players and a new coach [Danny Wilson].
“I think everybody wants to just watch some live rugby again and it will be good to get those derby games at the end of next month.
“We’re lucky to have Dr James [Robson] in charge of the medical team in Scottish rugby, the best man to have during something like this and he’ll be on top of everything I’m sure.”
• Donate to Ruaridh, Ryan, Richie and Andrew’s cycling challenge at the funding page
For more information on the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation go to www.myname5doddie.co.uk
For more information on Unite Against Cancer go to www.uniteagainstcancer.org/
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