Josh Bayliss on switching to Scotland and the role played by Cam Redpath in his cap call-up
Cameron Redpath has already made a thundering contribution to Scottish rugby with his performance in the win over England at Twickenham in February.
Now it appears that the Bath centre has played a significant role in alerting Gregor Townsend to another budding talent at the Rec.
Redpath’s clubmate Josh Bayliss is in line to pull on the dark blue of Scotland for the first time on Sunday in the A international against England in Leicester. By doing so he will commit himself to the country of his grandmother, Frances Bayliss, who hails from Aberdeen.
It’s quite a coup for Murrayfield to snare the back-row forward who was seen as a rising star of the English game.
He helped guide England Under-20 to a Six Nations grand slam and a place in the final of the 2017 World Rugby U20 Championship. However, no full cap was forthcoming and Bayliss said he was delighted to be approached by Scotland.
“I did age group stuff with England and then went back to Bath and international rugby was not really in my mind at all, I just wanted to get into the team at Bath and do what I could do there,” said the 23-year-old.
“Gregor got in contact with me around the Six Nations time and on the call it sounded like a great opportunity for me and as soon as I came into camp I felt comfortable and definitely felt like I’d made the right decision.”
Bayliss was called into the full Scotland squad in February for the match against France in Paris only for the game to be postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the French squad. He then suffered a concussion with Bath which ruled him out for a period but returned to the Scots set-up as part of the 37-man selection for the summer schedule.
“I was always aware of my Scottish heritage, but international rugby wasn’t on my horizons I guess,” he said. “Being at Bath, with the quality of back-rowers that we have, there is a lot of competition for places each week, so I was just battling away there and it was a complete surprise to get the call from Gregor, but a really good surprise.”
And there was no prouder grandparent than Frances
“She was obviously delighted and over the moon that I had chosen Scotland and she was one of the first people I called when I got the call-up.”
Bayliss, who galloped 70 metres to score an outstanding try for Bath against Northampton the other week, thinks it was Redpath who tipped Murrayfield the wink about his Scottish connection.
“We are quite close and Cam may have mentioned something when he came up because I know when he was sort of deliberating and deciding what to do we spoke quite a lot and I guess I mentioned to him that my grandmother was born in Aberdeen.”
Redpath was also an England U20 international and got as far as being called into Eddie Jones’ full squad before being ruled out with injury. However, the centre was persuaded by Townsend to play for the country his father, Bryan, captained with distinction in the 1990s.
Redpath enjoyed an outstanding Scotland debut in the Calcutta Cup earlier this year and was unfortunate to miss the remainder of the Six Nations with a neck issue. He has since been sidelined by a serious knee injury which looks set to rule him out for the remainder of the year.
Nevertheless, his experiences of the Scotland set-up were positive and rubbed off on Bayliss.
“I spoke to Cam and he told me about the camp and told me that he loved the environment and the brand of rugby that Scotland are looking to play and it all just seemed like something that would suit my game,” added Bayliss, who was born in Tiverton, south Devon.
“It wasn’t really a difficult decision with all of that considered. I saw it as a massive opportunity for me and I thought I’d regret it if I didn’t take it.”
Clubs in the Premiership benefit financially from producing players for the England national set-up but Bayliss said Bath gave him their blessing to switch allegiance.
“It was really important to me that Bath were happy and backed my decision, so I spoke to them and they were all for it,” he said.
“They ultimately want to see the boys at the club represent their countries and to push themselves as hard as they can. So they were very behind me, so that really helped.”
After the A international against England at Welford Road, Scotland will head to eastern Europe for Test matches against Romania on July 7 and Georgia seven days later.
Bayliss linked up last week with his new international team-mates and his early impressions have been favourable, with captain Jamie Ritchie welcoming him into the fold.
“It has been really good, it is a completely different environment to what I’m used to at Bath and it is a great change to get up here to Edinburgh and get stuck in, the boys have been great,” he said.
“It feels like a really good atmosphere building into the summer.
“I’ve spoken to Jamie quite a bit and he’s been incredibly welcoming. Obviously he’s an incredibly talented player and a real leader, you can see that right away. He leads from the front and sets an incredible example for the boys to follow. It’s been great. Having him play in a similar position means I can learn as much as I can from him and try to get up to speed.”
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