A TOP Scottish rugby prospect has reaffirmed strong Capital connections by joining Edinburgh’s elite development squad.
But utility back Sam Hidalgo Clyne, currently in South Africa preparing for the start of the World Under-20 Cup, is no stranger to recognising his rugby roots. One of his final tasks before departing was to visit the Forrester club which launched his career with gifts of jerseys and other memorabilia acquired either for the Scotland sevens team or age-group sides.
Receiving the memorabilia, which will be displayed in the clubhouse, was long-serving coach Bill Smith, 69, who is credited as most influential in the rise of an 18-year-old who moved to Edinburgh aged three after being born in Granada.
Before setting off with the Under-20s, Hidalgo Clyne paid tribute to Smith, saying: “When I was at Corstorphine Primary I played rugby at Forrester from the age of eight because Bill Smith who would take training sessions at our school.
“The link was only broken, aged 14 or 15, when I gained a scholarship to Merchiston Castle School.”
Smith recalls: “Sam has been a model of dedication in the way he has improved his skills. Of the crop of P4s who came along Sam is the only one who stayed the course. At the outset he wasn’t the most talented but he has made himself into a player we hope to follow all the way to full cap level.
“It was really good that Sam and his mum should thank our club for getting him started. We have a new pitch coming on stream at Broomhouse and at an official opening we will also unveil the memorabilia Sam has donated.”
Hidalgo Clyne added: “As well as Merchiston coach James Boyd I owe a debt to Heriot’s, who have provided games.
“Sevens have really improved my skills because you are so exposed and a highlight was playing in Tokyo against Samoa. I sometimes think it is really isn’t happening that I find myself playing against those I look up to on television.”
Another example to Hidalgo Clyne has been Edinburgh captain Greig Laidlaw, who can play either stand off or scrum half to Test level. “I could be full back at the Under-20 World Cup but I’m also open to playing half-back,” said Hidalgo Clyne, adding: “Greig Laidlaw has shown what can be done. I’ve been to South Africa previously with the Scotland sevens squad so I have experienced the rugby culture but attachment to that group meant I missed out when the Under-20s came from behind to defeat Italy with two late scores at the end of the Six Nations. Hopefully I can play a part in ensuring the team carries on where they left off.”
Meanwhile, at Forrester where Smith is keen to take Sam up on an offer to conduct a training session, full-time development officer Gavin Sisson, who helps introduce youngsters at 16 local primaries to rugby, is to be player-coach next season.
Smith says: “I coached him at Murrayburn Primary and he went on to take qualifications so that at the age of 25 he’ll be in charge of our first team next season as well as turning out in the centre.”
Also joining Edinburgh on elite development contracts are Sean Kennedy (Stirling County), Alex Allan (Loughborough Students) and Phil Cringle (18, Kirkham Grammar).