Jamie Ritchie: I aim to follow friend and play for Scotland

Edinburgh back-row Jamie Ritchie says the possibility of a Scotland cap becomes ' more real when your close friends have them.'
Edinburgh back-row Jamie Ritchie says the possibility of a Scotland cap becomes ' more real when your close friends have them.'
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Edinburgh Rugby back-row Jamie Ritchie admits he was delighted for close friend Magnus Bradbury when he earned a Scotland cap during the autumn Tests – and he would love to follow his lead.

The duo have grown up, in rugby terms, together, playing many games for Scotland under-20s and both have had spells captaining the age-grade outfit.

Ritchie, at 20, is a year younger than Bradbury, but such was his form when given a chance by Edinburgh last season that many felt he would reach full international honours first.

However, Bradbury had a storming start to this season with the pro club while a couple of injury niggles frustrated Ritchie.

They both lined up in the back row against the Dragons in the disappointing Guinness Pro12 defeat at Rodney Parade on Sunday and are keen to be involved with Edinburgh – and hopefully Scotland – in the long term.

Ritchie said: “I was absolutely delighted for Magnus when he was named in the Scotland side against Argentina and texted him when the team went out online.

“It just shows what form can do. He’s had a great year and I’m really happy because he’s one of my best mates, so it was great to see him run out there at BT Murrayfield for the country.

“I was at school with Zander Fagerson [at Strathallan] and he got his first cap last year and now Maggie has one and it shows me that it is possible to get there – it is a definite goal for the future.

“A Scotland cap becomes more real when your close friends have them. I’m not envious of Maggie, but it means that, if I get a run of games and play well for Edinburgh, then I too could be in with a shout.”

Although Ritchie had a good game in general on Sunday in Wales, unforced errors killed Edinburgh’s chances of even picking up a losing bonus point.

In the end, they went down to a 29-17 defeat, leaving them 10th in the table with just three wins from nine.

Duncan Hodge’s men do not have much time to feel sorry for themselves, though, with another trip south to face the Ospreys on Friday night.

With such a tight turnaround and travel to be factored in, it means that today is the only full day’s training the squad will have before leaving early tomorrow morning.

“It is the nature of the sport, travelling and playing games in quick succession, and it affects some guys in different ways – some guys don’t like 
sitting on buses or planes – 
but it’s not that big a deal,” Ritchie said about their condensed week.

“I try and take every game as it comes. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s the way I deal with the good and the bad. I don’t dwell on things in terms of the result, I just move on and look at what I can do to improve and how I can change to be even better in the next game.

“We shot ourselves in the foot at key points in the Dragons game with nearly 20 turnovers we gave away. They beat us at the breakdown and you can’t play if you give away that many turnovers.

“There were opportunities where we were looking to score and they turned us over and we’ve lost the chance and sometimes they scored. That’s what made it hard.”

With John Hardie and Hamish Watson having been away on Scotland duty of late and the former now being injured, Ritchie has been pressed into action in the No 7 jersey in the last two matches.

He has played most of his rugby with the professsional team to date at No 6, but says he feels equally at home along the whole back row.

“I am really enjoying playing in the No role,” he said.

“I haven’t played a lot at seven for Edinburgh, but I have for other clubs and at age-grade, so I’m not unfamiliar with it.

“Really I just enjoy playing, be that with a six or seven or 
20 or whatever number you want to chuck on my back – as long as I’m on the field, I’m happy.”