Jamie Ritchie on avoiding rugby geekery and embracing Edinburgh’s new home

Professional sport can be all consuming but rugby isn’t 24/7 for Jamie Ritchie. He doesn’t watch many games on telly and he’s not too sure about the structure of the new United Rugby Championship.

Jamie Ritchie is relishing Edinburgh's return to the DAM Health Stadium for Saturday's match against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Jamie Ritchie is relishing Edinburgh's return to the DAM Health Stadium for Saturday's match against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The intricacies of the Scottish-Italian Shield may have passed him by but Ritchie is a fierce competitor and is desperate for Edinburgh to return to winning ways this weekend.

Last Saturday’s loss to Benetton hurt, and the flanker knows it was a game the capital side should have won. Leonardo Marin’s drop goal in the 85th minute turned victory into defeat and Edinburgh will seek to make amends when they host the Stormers.

“There were parts of that game we could have managed better, stuff like executing our skills in the big moments which could have ended up with us winning the game,” said Ritchie.

Jamie Ritchie acknowledges the supporters after Edinburgh's win over the Scarlets at the DAM Health Stadium. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

The composition of the URC means there are leagues within the league and Edinburgh are grouped with Glasgow, Benetton and Zebre in the Scots-Italian pool. Whoever comes out top of that will play in next season’s Champions Cup but Ritchie admits he had yet to fully fathom the complexities of the new championship.

“I couldn’t tell you the structure of the league,” he said. “For me, the game at the weekend is the most important one and we try to get as many points out of each one as we can.”

If Ritchie is no rugby geek - he prefers to watch other stuff in his downtime - there are those in the squad who devour the game.

“There are guys who spend a lot of their time watching rugby that is not necessarily just our games,” said the flanker

“I probably used to watch a lot more than I do now. I’ve got a few more commitments back home so I don’t really get the time to sit down in front of the telly for a couple of hours. I’ll watch the games I need to watch when we’re looking to preview teams or if there’s a big game on or if I’ve got mates playing.

“There’s a lot of rugby on and we spend a lot of our time doing rugby so sometimes it’s quite nice to watch Clarkson’s Farm or something like that.”

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Edinburgh now have back-to-back home games and Ritchie has been surprised by how much of a lift the players have had from their new ground.

The flit from Murrayfield to the DAM Health Stadium was a short one but there was a huge increase in atmosphere when Edinburgh beat the Scarlets last month.

“I wasn’t sure how much different it would feel for me,” said Ritchie. “But, genuinely, being in here made such a difference. I was pleasantly surprised. It definitely does feel like home now.”

With the supporters so close to the pitch Ritchie found himself geeing up the crowd in the closing stages of the Scarlets game.

“They’re a bit closer than they were back in the big stadium,” said the 25-year-old. “I was probably getting a bit caught up in it all. But it’s good. The more noise they can make for us, it makes such a difference. At the end of that game we were probably under a bit of pressure and the crowd really drove us through.”

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