Harry Paterson said goodbye to his breakfast when he got shock call-up for Scotland v France
The young Edinburgh full-back, who had not been part of Scotland’s original match-day 23, experienced a sudden loss of appetite. For someone who had played only eight games of pro rugby, this was beyond his wildest dreams.
“On Saturday morning I presumed I’d be 24th man and travelling reserve,” said Paterson, who was thrust into the team after Kyle Steyn dropped out when his wife went into labour. “But things changed pretty quickly. I found out in the morning, which is actually better as you’ve got less time to stress. I got a full night’s sleep as well.
“There was about five minutes of panic but I stabilised after that. I was halfway through my breakfast when Gregor called me. I didn’t really eat much after that. I was having poached eggs on toast with baked beans. I had to say goodbye to that. I managed to force a couple of bananas down me, but that was it.”
The 22-year-old repaid the coach’s faith with an assured performance as Scotland were edged out 20-16. Townsend called it one of the best Test debuts he’d ever seen and Paterson certainly didn’t look overawed against a French side packed with superstars. Polite and self-effacing, he acknowledged his chance had come partly due to the unavailability of others when asked what he thought had caught Townsend’s eye.
“Obviously there’s been a bit of luck with people dropping out and a couple of injuries,” said Paterson. “But having seen me in the couple of games I’ve played for Edinburgh this season, he’s liked the fact I have a bit of an edge about me. I’m not the fastest in the world, I’m not the most naturally gifted so I need to make up for that with a lot of hard work.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play for Scotland but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. My first week I was a wee bit taken aback by everything. It was a wee bit different. But once I got a few training sessions under my belt you realise it’s just rugby. It’s just a bit faster and everyone is a bit more on it but it’s still rugby.”
The first person he phoned to tell the news of his selection was his father Steve, a former stalwart for Heriot’s. “Calling him was a bad idea actually as I got a bit emotional! I should have just texted him, but he was trying to keep me calm. It was a nice moment.”
Scotland were ultimately undone by France when Sam Skinner’s late, late try was disallowed but it was still a day to treasure for Paterson who caught up with his family at full-time. “Yes, it was lovely. It was obviously bitter-sweet in a lot of ways, but all the boys were saying to make sure I take it all in and enjoy it. Jamie Ritchie said to me before, when you get to Murrayfield take your headphones off when you come off the bus and enjoy the crowd. I’m glad he said that as I probably wouldn't have, so that was a nice moment.”
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