Jamie Ritchie close to tears after being named Edinburgh co-captain as Mike Blair explains appointments
Jamie Ritchie said he was close to tears after being told he would be captaining Edinburgh this season.
Gilchrist, 32, performed the role last season in tandem with Stuart McInally and the latter will still have an important role to play but it is now Ritchie who will lead the team alongside the experienced lock.
“When Mike told me he’d made that decision I was holding back tears, I was really excited,” he said. “This club has been part of my whole adult life. I joined when I was 17 years old, my kids were born in Edinburgh and I live here in Edinburgh with my wife.”
Ritchie, who also captained at age-grade level, believes leadership can be learned and it’s not necessarily about being the most vocal player on the field.
“I would say I try to be as concise as possible, so not necessarily speaking all the time but when I feel something needs to be said I’ll say it,” he said.
“People can be branded as natural leaders. I’ve realised that it’s very much a skill that can be honed and worked on and it’s something that I look for a lot of feedback on, about how some things you might say land or are perceived.”
Glasgow recently appointed Kyle Steyn as their new captain and the winger/centre will fly solo after new coach Franco Smith decided to dispense with joint skippers.
Blair believes otherwise, arguing that the role is too big for one person.
“It’s something we’ve done previously and it’s proved to be a success,” said the Edinburgh coach. “That’s the history behind it; the more philosophical reason behind it is we believe it’s a big job, and sharing the responsibility of it will allow each of them to focus on the team but on their own games as well. Share the responsibility, share ideas.”
Regarding the choice of captains, Blair said Ritchie and Gilchrist were stand-out candidates.
“When I spoke to the players about it I felt that those two guys epitomised what we wanted Edinburgh Rugby players to be. They’re the most consistent, committed players that we’ve got. You can't help but play for them because of what they do on the pitch and the places they put their heads where other people might not. So that level of inspiring the team was a big thing.
“With leadership people don’t always want to have their head above the parapet, but it’s something that Jamie wants to do. He wants to get better at it, he wants to challenge himself, he sees it as an important role in the team and one that he can do.
“I want to mention Stuart McInally as well, because although he won’t have an official title, I see him as being part of that group of three. He’s an outstanding man, he was brilliant for us last season with on-field stuff and off-field stuff as well, in particular around connecting with the young players and being someone to speak to about experiences, issues.”
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